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Newspaper Editors Imprisoned by Mawlamyine Court

Reported by: > The editor and the news editor of the Yangon based Myanmar Post Journal were sentenced to two months imprisonment under section 500 of the defamation law by Mawlamyine City Court in Mon State on 18 March.

The newspaper covered a meeting and workshop with members of the Mon State’s Hluttaw (parliament) forum held on 20 January 2014 that had been organised by the Mon State parliament and the UN Development Program (UNDP).

A Myanmar Post Journal report on 29 January 2014 about the meeting carried the headline: ‘Army Parliamentary Representative Says Parliament Needs Army Officers Because Civilians Are Uneducated.’

Following the report Major Thein Zaw, the army representative of the Mon State Parliament prosecuted the newspaper’s chief editor U Than Htike Thu and the news editor U Sun Moe Tun at Mawlamyine Court on 20 February 2014 according to the pair’s lawyer, U Tun Aung.

He said that the parliamentary chairman and other representatives had signed statements saying that the newspaper’s reporting of what had been said was accurate. He said there was also a recording of the meeting and a list of the other participants.

U Tun Aung said: “How could the plaintiff have a grievance? In my opinion the report did nothing to decrease the standing of the plaintiff or harm him.”

The case went to court 26 times over the course of one year.

U Thein Hlaing, the chairman of the Mon State Journalist’s Association said: “This is a strange judgment, maybe it is an attempt to intimidate the media.”

This is the second time in a year that journalists have been imprisoned in Mon State. Last year journalist Ko Par Gyi died whilst in custody at an army camp.

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