Mawlamyine Township Court on March 18 sentenced Myanmar Post chief editor U Than Htike Thu and deputy chief reporter U San Moe Tun to two months in prison with hard labour on charges of defamation against military MPs.
They were sentenced for a news story which was headlined: “A military parliamentary representative says they have to take seats in Parliament because of low educational standards.”
The story was published in Myanmar Post on January 29, 2014
Due to the news story, Major Thein Zaw, a military MP of Mon State Assembly, sued the journal under Section 500 for defamation, according to a senior reporter of Myanmar Post, who attended the hearing. Major Thein Zaw was interviewed for the story.
On March 18, the Myanmar Post printed a black box on its front cover in protest against the police’s violent crackdown against student protestors and media personnel in Letpadan on March 10.
Rights groups have expressed concern over freedom of the press in Myanmar. Since President U Thein Sein took power in 2011, seventeen journalists have been imprisoned on various charges, and one journalist, freelancer Ko Par Gyi, was shot dead in army custody in October last year. There are currently 13 journalists in jail.