A member of Myanmar’s ruling pro-democracy party has pressed charges against two villagers for insulting the government’s new leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a police officer said on Friday. Suu Kyi steered her National League for Democracy (NLD) into power earlier this year after championing a decades-long struggle against military rule. Her administration has vowed to expand freedoms in the fledgling democracy but limits on expression remain – as does a culture of charging critics with defamation.
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The latest case saw two men charged for allegedly going on an obscenity-laced rant against the Nobel Laureate after a heavy evening drinking session in a village not far from the capital Naypyidaw. Local police chief Zaw Khin Aung said the two men used “insulting words” against 71-year-old Suu Kyi.
“An NLD member sent a complaint letter to the police and sued two people for abusing the state counsellor,” he told AFP. “We know these two people but we have not arrested them yet,” he added. According to local news site the Democratic Voice of Burma, the two men called Suu Kyi a “hag” who deserved to be murdered.
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Suu Kyi is adored by many in Myanmar and her party trounced historic polls in November, the first free election in decades. Despite soaring hopes her administration would nurture a new era of free expression, several people have been prosecuted for defamation since her party took over in late March. A man was jailed for nine months in September for calling Myanmar’s president, Suu Kyi’s long time friend and ally, “crazy” in a Facebook post. That case was also brought by a local NLD member.
In July a local official in central Magway region was charged with defamation for referring to Suu Kyi with a slur on Facebook.