The chief editor of Tanintharyi Journal was indicted in Dawei township court in Tanintharyi Region on Monday for publishing a satire that allegedly damaged the reputation of a minister.
The court decided to indict U Myo Aung, chief editor of the weekly, for publishing the piece, said township Judge U Myint Kyaw. He was the first person to be indicted under the country’s Media Act.
The article, “Politicking with a smile,” published on November 20 last year, was about a woman village official campaigning to be re-elected.
The satirical piece described how the woman was ridiculed by villagers for admitting that she did not know how to run her ward, an apparent allusion to a comment made by the region’s chief minister to local media that she did not know how to run the government.
U Aye Lu, deputy director of the regional government, filed the complaint against the story in Dawei township court on November 23, alleging that it had tarnished the image of regional officials in violation of section 25(b) of the Media Act.
The act prohibits people from writing articles that deliberately damage the reputation of an organisation. Those found guilty can be fined up to K1 million (US$638).
The next hearing in the case will be on October 15, when two witnesses will testify for the defence, Judge U Myint Kyaw said.
“We will try to face this case according to the law,” said U Myo Aung.
He said the case reflects the state of media freedom in Myanmar, adding that the plaintiff had no understanding of ethics or satire. Unfortunately, the plaintiff is acting on behalf of the regional government, he said.
The journal is a weekly publication and part of Dawei Watch, which was established in 2012, and mainly reports news from Mon State and Tanintharyi.
Earlier this year, another publication, The Voice, was sued by the military for publishing a satirical piece that it deemed derogatory.
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