Asia

Myanmar Facebook: Woman gets six months' jail

Min Aung Hlaing wearing the Burmese army's new uniform Image copyright Myanmar military
Image caption Commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing shows off the army's new uniform

Burmese activist Chaw Sandi Tun has been jailed for six months for mocking the country's army on Facebook.

She was found guilty of insulting the army chief by suggesting he wrap Aung San Suu Kyi's sarong round his head.

This followed humorous exchanges by internet users who noticed the colour of the army's new uniform matched some of the pro-democracy leader's clothing.

Critics say the conviction is part of a wider crackdown on protest and free speech in Myanmar, also called Burma.

The Facebook post in question was written in October after the army unveiled its new uniform as part of a rebranding exercise.

The army's commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing - who BBC correspondents say is a prolific Facebook user - modelled the new uniform online. The light green colour matched a sarong previously worn by Ms Suu Kyi.

This set off a series of internet memes, with composite pictures made to suggest the army chief was mimicking Ms Suu Kyi's sartorial taste.

The court in Ayeyawady Region found that Ms Chaw, 25, an activist for Ms Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy (NLD), shared the picture and added her own comment, saying: "If you love Mother Suu so much, why don't you wrap her sarong around your head?"

The activist was charged under the Electronic Transactions Act, which contains a broadly worded clause that makes it illegal to "extort, threaten, obstruct, defame, disturb, inappropriately influence or intimidate".

Her lawyer denied she shared the picture and her mother, Ei San, said: "We will appeal as we are not satisfied."

In a separate case, well-known activist Patrick Khum Jaa Lee, is awaiting trial after being accused of criticising the army on Facebook. He faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

Myanmar spent decades under military rule. A nominally civilian government has overseen a series of reforms since 2011, but the military remains accused of rights violations and is shielded from oversight.

The NLD won a landslide in general elections last month and will form a government early next year.