Student Activists Jailed for Telling Jokes about the Military

Seven student activists were arrested in April 2019 for criticising the military in their satirical performance during the Burmese New Year celebration. They were sentenced to 2 to 4 years imprisonment with hard labour in Insein Prison.

Kay Khaing Tun, Zayar Lwin, Paing Ye Thu, Paing Phyo Min, Paing Ye Thu, Zaw Lin Htut and Su Yadanar Myint are members of Peacock Generation Thangyat group in Burma.

Thangyat is a type of slam poetry traditionally performed during the Burmese New Year holiday, and Thangyat groups usually highlight difficulties and situations of the country in a series of jokes. The Peacock Generation Thangyat group includes current and former members of the Student Union in Burma. Their satirical performance mostly included materials about the country’s constitution and the military.

They were charged under the 66 (d) of the Telecommunication Law for defamation and the 505 (a) of Burma’s Penal Code. 505 (a) criminalises any statements or rumours “with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, any officer, soldier, sailor or airman in the Army, Navy or Air Force to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty as such.”

In November 2019, all seven students were sentenced to one-year imprisonment with hard labour for violating the 505 (a) of Burma’s Penal Code. Subsequently, they were found guilty of defamation after their trials.

Currently, Zayar Lwin, Paing Phyo Min and Paing Ye Thu are serving three years and six months imprisonment. Zaw Lin Htut and Su Yadanar Myint are serving two years imprisonment. Kay Khine Tun is serving two years and six months imprisonment. They are all serving their prison sentences in Insein Prison.

Please take action and ask Aung San Suu Kyi to release Kay Khaing Tun, Zayar Lwin, Paing Ye Thu, Paing Phyo Min, Paing Ye Thu, Zaw Lin Htut and Su Yadanar Myint, and to repeal all repressive laws.