Comedians slapped with fines for offending military

Five comedians have been fined 100,000 kyat each at a court in Naypyidaw after putting on a performance that the Tatmdaw claimed showed a soldier abusing a civilian.

But the comedians said after last week’s verdict that the military had misunderstood their performance.

“They said we depicted the military torturing a civilian, but that’s a misinterpretation,” comedian Pan Thee told Myanmar Now.

The military objected to an April performance where one of the five dressed as a soldier and placed his foot on a woman’s shoulder.

The skit was meant to depict the love between the woman and the soldier and was not intended as a criticism of the Tatmadaw, Pan Thee said.

But Lt. Col. Myint Oo argued that the skit was an insult to the dignity of the military when he opened a case against the performers.

They could have been jailed for up to two years under section 500 of the penal code, one of several statutes that criminalizes defamation in Myanmar.

“These days, everyone is really sensitive and the situation gets complicated, so we’re careful about not wantonly criticizing people or institutions,” Pan Thee said.

The military is also suing lawyer Kyee Myint, poet Saw Wai and former Tatmadaw captain Nay Myo Zin for attempting to sow “discord” among military personnel in speeches they gave at an event in Kawthaung, Tanintharyi region, which was organized to call for changes to the military-drafted constitution.

Six satirical performers from the Peacock Generation thangyat troupe received one-year prison sentences on Monday for mocking the military. Five members of the troupe were already handed one-year sentences at a different court last month.

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