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Myanmar actor jailed for cursing army with graffiti

Criticism of the army, that still retains control over the key government ministries and a quarter of parliament seats, is still a taboo.? Photograph: (WION)

WION Yangon, Myanmar Aug 27, 2016, 08.52 AM (IST)
A Myanmar actor was sentenced to nearly three years in prison for scribbling and spray-painting insults fraught with curses about the army on his car, calling them an “army of dogs", a police officer said today. 

Thirty five years old Tun Lin Thein, who appears in Myanmar music videos, spray-painted a number of other expletives across his silver Nissan in March, according to officials. He was also charged with defaming the national flag and a Buddhist flag which he had put alongside the graffiti on his car. He was arrested shortly after and convicted of defamation by a Yangon court. 

"The court sentenced him for two years and nine months," police officer Thein Han told AFP.

"His behaviour was not only abusive to the Tatmadaw (Myanmar army) but also to our religion and national flag. That is why he had to receive this sentence," Thein Han said.

Freedoms have flourished in Myanmar since the military junta stepped down in 2011, paving the way for November elections that swept democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi into power.

But limits on expression remain, with criticism of the army especially taboo.

Suu Kyi’s first few months in power have seen several defamation prosecutions being carried out. 

Earlier, a six-month sentence was handed out to a man who wrote a poem about having a tattoo of the former ex-army president on his penis. 

A film about the conflict between the military and ethnic Shan groups in the mid-20th century was also pulled from a human rights film festival in June.

(WION with inputs from AFP)

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