(From AFP)

A Myanmar court sentenced a female activist to six months in jail on Monday for a Facebook post satirizing the powerful military, the latest crackdown against free speech in the former junta-ruled country.

Student Chaw Sandi Tun speaks with a Buddhist monk after her hearing at court in Maubin, Myanmar
Student Chaw Sandi Tun speaks with a Buddhist monk after her hearing at court in Maubin, Myanmar

Freedoms have flourished since the junta ceded full control to a partly civilian government in 2011, culminating in landmark elections last month.

But there have been growing concerns over renewed breaches of civil liberties. Criticism of the still powerful military remains fraught with risk.

Chaw Sandi Tun, 25, was arrested in October after a post on her Facebook page made fun of the army.

“My daughter was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment at Ma U Bin township court this morning under Section 66(d) of the telecoms law. We will appeal as we are not satisfied,” her mother Ei San said.

She was referring to a broadly worded law which bans the defamation or “disturbing” of people through any telecommunications network.

The maximum penalty she faced was three years in jail.

Her lawyer confirmed the sentence but said his client denied making the post.

“She said her Facebook account had been hacked several times and that she didn’t post that post,” Robert San Aung said.

The post compared the colour of a new uniform for army officers with that of a “longyi” (traditional skirt) worn by National League for Democracy (NLD) leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party swept last moth’s polls and will form a government next year.

“If you love mother that much, why don’t you wrap mother’s longyi on your head?” the post said.

The United States embassy has previously called for the release of Chaw Sandi Tun and Patrick Khum Jaa Lee, another activist who has been arrested over Facebook posts critical of the military.

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