By NJ Thakuria
The right to freedom of expression in Myanmar has been declining during the term of present regime, which was otherwise unexpected as Nobel laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy is leading the Union government in NayPieTaw.
Progressive Voice, participatory rights-based policy research and advocacy organization based in Mae Sot of Thailand alleged in its latest weekly highlights (26 August to 1 September 2019) that in respect of criticisms against the government and security forces of the country, the new quasi-democratic regime has shown intolerances.
“Over the past few days a prominent filmmaker and human rights activist Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was sentenced to one year in prison for criticizing the Myanmar military in his facebook posts. Meanwhile in Kachin State, a military commander has filed a lawsuit against a Kachin ethnic (Baptist) leader for his comments made to the USA President about persecution of Christians by the military,” said the organization.
Similarly, the NLD government in Karenni State has charged six Karenni youths for calling the Karenni State chief minister a traitor over his attempt to place General Aung San’s statue in its capital Loikaw against the people’s will as they believe it ‘a symbol of the dominant role of Bamar majority, neglecting the leaders and history of Karenni
people, added the weekly highlights.
Even though the Myanmar military is known for its decades-long oppression against the civilians and violations of the human rights of Myanmar people, especially ethnic and religious minorities, it was expected to get changed once the NLD government took charge after 2015 elections with the promise of democratic transitions.
“Though the first term of NLD government is slowly coming to an end, improved protection of the right to freedom of expression, alongside the right to freedom of assembly is yet to be seen. On the contrary, the military and government have increasingly become intolerant of any criticism against them”, asserted Progressive Voice.
Mentionable is that Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi has been charged under 505(a) of the Penal Code for his facebook posts criticizing the military which could have been avoided ‘if Myanmar protects the people's right to freedom of expression’.
Moreover, he is suffering from liver cancer and according to his lawyer Robert San Aung, he continues it be deprived of proper treatments during the detention period. Despite his concerning health condition, the court on 28 August sentenced him to one year in prison with hard labor. Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi did not bow down and commented that ‘the military should leave politics and that the 2008 Constitution should be amended’.