Magway Region authorities have charged three reporters under Section 66(D) of the Telecommunications Law for posting statements on Facebook about a dispute between villagers and a construction company operating in the area.
MGY Journal editor Tin Shwe posted a statement on Facebook on May 28 claiming that residents of Myinkin village opposed the bulldozing of trees around a nearby road construction site. In another post, he called on authorities to investigate a local businessman for illegally supplying bricks to the project.
Democracy Today reporter Zar Zar San and Myanmar Times reporter Phyupwint Nayche commented on Tin Shwe’s post about the illegal bricks.
Tin Shwe told RFA on Thursday that the three of them had been charged under Section 66(D), which prohibits online defamation. Those convicted under the law can be jailed for up to three years and fined.
“In Magwe region, brick and sand businesses are banned, but some people are doing it illegally … [so] we posted about [this and the construction dispute] on Facebook,” he told RFA.
Magway police confirmed the charges, saying the journalists had posted “incorrect information”. They also said the suit was filed by Htay Lwin, the administrator of Maehla Taung village tract, in which Myinkin village is located.
Police officer Kyaw Soe also told RFA that the villagers were not opposed to the construction project and did not even know the bricks were illegal until the three journalists traveled to the village and told them so.
Section 66(D) is frequently used to jail journalists and critics of Myanmar’s elites, including the government, the military, and individuals.
On June 6, over 100 journalists gathered in Yangon to demand its repeal.