03/09/2017, 14.59
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Myanmar, journalist accused of libel against a nationalist monk

The reporter faces three years in prison. The cleric had called the killers of a Muslim lawyer opponent of military power "defenders of race and religion,". The accused: "unacceptable incitement to hatred."


Yangon (AsiaNews / RFA) - The police forces of Myanmar have made public yesterday that Swe Win, a prominent journalist and director of Myanmar Now, is accused of defamation. Last week, the reporter had used his Facebook account to criticize a nationalist Buddhist monk who had praised the January murder of Ko Ni, one of the leading Muslim lawyers of the country. The lawyer was one of the most valued collaborators of Aung San Suu Kyi, the current Councilor of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the President of Myanmar.

The complaint was filed by Kyaw Myo Shwe, a follower of Wirathu, vice president of the Buddhist nationalist movement Ma Ba Tha. He states that the journalist defamed the monk with his article published on Facebook "Ba Kaung".

On 28 February, Swe Win had used his account to launch a harsh criticism of Wirathu. In his post, the reporter had said that Wirathu was "a grave violation of parajika (the Buddhist monastic code)." The nationalist monk had expressed appreciation for the brutal murder of Ko Ni, critic of the military power in Myanmar, defining the perpetrators "defenders of race and religion of Myanmar". The assassins had been hired by a former military officer, still on the run.

Yesterday, Swe Win defended his post and said: "I cannot allow that hateful Ma Ba Tha contine in Myanmar under the cover of religion." "They are committing hate crimes - said the journalist – they are distributing material that is not in line with the teachings of the Buddha. Wirathu is supporting and incitement to murder ". The accused has also questioned the opportunities for opening a case for defamation against him.

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