Myanmar’s government should immediately drop all criminal charges against three street artists arrested for painting a mural that raises awareness about the coronavirus pandemic, Human Rights Watch said in a statement.
The artists, Zayar Hnaung, Ja Sai, and Naw Htun Aung, were charged on April 3, 2020 for violating Myanmar’s law criminalizing speech that “insults” religion.
The three were arrested after Buddhist hardliners complained that the mural, portraying a grim reaper figure spreading the COVID-19 virus, looked like a Buddhist monk. It was painted on a wall in Myitkyina, the capital of Kachin State.
The deputy director of Kachin State’s Religious Office formally filed the charges under article 295A of the Penal Code.