Myanmar military steps up ruthless crackdown on criticism

Activist says jailing of five actors shows it will 'dredge up any law' to silence dissenting voices
Myanmar military steps up ruthless crackdown on criticism

Prominent monk Ashin Ariya Wun Tha Bhiwun Sa faces up to two years in jail for questioning a donation allegedly made by a senior military officer to a hardline nationalist group. (ucanews photo)

While Myanmar’s soldiers are on the frontline waging war against ethnic rebels, dozens of colonels and captains are busy fighting their own battles … in the courtroom.

The military top brass say they are simply defending the dignity of the armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw, but it a time-consuming process. Athan, a Yangon-based group that advocates freedom of expression, says 25 colonels have since 2016 filed defamation cases with the police against 78 people, including activists, satirical groups, journalists and monks.

On Oct. 31, a Yangon court jailed five performers from a satirical theater group for one year with labor for violating section 505(a) of the criminal code.

Five members of the Peacock Generation Thangyat troupe have been held without bail in notorious Insein prison since April after the military slapped a lawsuit against them over a performance that allegedly mocked the military.

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