Chaw Sandi Tun, a 25-year-old political activist, was sentenced in Myanmar to six months behind bars for posting satirical content about the military on Facebook.
The activist was arrested in Yangon in October 2015 and was charged with violating Article 66(d) of Burma’s Telecommunications Law which contains broad definitions of defamation. She was accused of posting an offensive satiric content on social media, described by The Nation as followed:
“The defendant was accused of posting a picture of two senior military officers and NLD leader Aung San Suu Kyi, comparing the new mint-green uniforms with her traditional sarong wrap of the same colour… The caption read: “If you love Mother Suu so much, why don’t you wrap her sarong around your head?””
Chaw Sandi Tun denied the charges and claimed that her Facebook profile had been hacked.
The activist is a member of the National League for Democracy (NLD) opposition party. Although NLD has won an absolute majority in the 2015 general election, it has not yet obtained full leadership. Myanmar has been in a transitioning period in the past five years, transforming from a military rule towards the establishment of a democracy.
According to the Freedom House’s 2015 Freedom of the Net report, Myanmar freedom status has worsened from “Partly Free” in 2014 to “Not Free” in 2015. Myanmar is ranked among the worst violators of freedom of the net, with a total score of 63 (being the worst score 100).
The report documented an increasing number of Internet users who have been arrested by the government due to their online activities. Among them, 3 men who was sentenced to two years in prison each for insulting religion on Facebook. Furthermore, social media users are prompted by government officials to refrain from sharing content which is deemed to be offensive towards the military or the government.
The renewed crackdown on freedom of expression in Myanmar demonstrates that unfortunately, the blessed transition towards democracy is yet to take full impact in the country.