Petition seeks to free ‘Buddha bar’ trio


Philip Blackwood (C), with U Tun Thurein and U Htut Ko Ko Lwin being taken to court on March 17, 2015. They were sentenced to two and a half years in jail over the posting of an image of Buddha wearing headphones on Facebook. Photo: Thet Ko/Mizzima

Philip Blackwood (C), with U Tun Thurein and U Htut Ko Ko Lwin being taken to court on March 17, 2015. They were sentenced to two and a half years in jail over the posting of an image of Buddha wearing headphones on Facebook. Photo: Thet Ko/Mizzima

Supporters of imprisoned VGastro Pub managers Mr Philip Blackwood, U Tun Thurein and U Htut Ko Ko have started a petition on Avaaz.org calling on President U Thein Sein to free the trio.

By March 26, the petition had 450 signatures with a target of at least 3,000. 

Avaaz is an online platform that allows people to sign up to support various causes.

According to the campaign, the three men have been “unjustly imprisoned.”

“They had no intention of insulting Buddhism or its sacred heritage. Releasing them immediately would symbolise the willingness of Myanmar to embrace tolerance, diversity, and freedom of expression,” the campaign says.

The New Zealand bar manager and his two Myanmar colleagues were sentenced on March 17 to two and a half years behind bars for posting a picture of Buddha wearing headphones on Facebook. Two of the years’ imprisonment involves hard labour.  

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