Htin Lin Oo Arrested without bail for insulting religion and will appear before court again on 24 Dec 2014
PHOTCR. Nay Oo
“Buddha is not Burmese, not Shan and not Karen—so if you want to be an extreme nationalist and if you love to maintain your race that much, don’t believe in Buddhism,”
National League for Democracy member Htin Lin Oo has been subjected to a lawsuit for contravening the Burmese Penal Code’s statutes on religious offence, after a speech last month provoked outrage from Buddhist groups.
An officer from the Department of Immigration in Sagaing Division’s Chaung-U Township has filed a lawsuit against Htin Lin Oo under Article 295a, which prohibits “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings”, and Article 298, which proscribes “uttering words […] with deliberate intent to wound religious feelings”. Both charges are punishable by fines or imprisonment of up to two years for the former and one year for the latter.
As Burmese,and “Literary Symposium author” he should better known….
Hsan Tint, judge from Myinmu Township court started hearing the trial on December 17 in place of Lin Min Tun, judge from Chaung-U Township court who is attending a training course at the Central Institute of Civil Service (Phaunggyi).
Ko Hsan Tun, a younger brother of Htin Lin Oo said that the judge asked him to apply for bail and then he prepared the application. But then the judge refused it as the plaintiff lawyer complained that the application is not valid.
“The trail is at the beginning stage. This case will be heard in accord with the laws. The court cannot grant bail in such case. The court cannot grant bail under the section 295 (a). I will hear the trail while he (Chaung-U township judge) is under training,” said Hsan Tint, judge from Myinmu Township court said.
While leaving the court after his first appearance, Htin Lin Oo said: “Now I am in a position to perform the purification of the Buddha Sasana as well as to ensure the rule of law. I will continue doing what I should do. You will see the fact I pointed out earlier. I had to fill in an application form for bail. I myself did not give any reason. The fact that there is no valid reason in the form is very bad. I was summoned by the court to appear in the court. I come here to face the trial in accord with the laws. But it amounts to arresting me by means of cheat. Do all courts in Myanmar have a habit of doing like so? I come here in advance to face this trial. I was not at large. The court issued a summons against me to face this trial. I have responsibility to face this trial as they said. I am not a defendant. I am innocent as long as indictable offences have yet to be found. All of you can imagine the situation of citizens if this is called the rule of law,” said Htin Lin Oo while leaving the court.
The judge asked Htin Lin Oo at the court hearing that he wanted to put up bail for him. But Htin Lin Oo refused to apply for bail. After that, the judge asked him again to apply for it and he filled in an application form for bail. But the court rejected his bail citing that there is no valid fact, according to locals who attended the court hearing.
The head of Immigration Department said: “Htin Lin Oo’s speech made at a literary event included some points defaming and insulting national and religion. He used such words about three times. So the Township Sangha Nayaka committee held its meeting on this matter. According to the committee’s decision, the township management committee was assigned to take a legal action against him. I am a head of township immigration department. This township has no separate township religious affairs department. But there is a state-level religious affairs department only. So I was assigned to file a lawsuit against him as a plaintiff. Then, I opened a lawsuit against him at the Chaung-U Township court in accord with the Section 295 (a) and 298 on November 20. He was charged after monks from the Township Sangha Nayaka Committee and those from the Township Management Committee had listened to all of his speech. The trial will go on in accord with the laws.”
Htin Lin Oo said: “A 10-minute excerpt of my speech was widely shared over social media. My speech is 1:40 hrs long. But a 10-minute excerpt is taken out of the context. The 10-minute CDs are distributed among the public. I don’t exactly know which organizations distribute these copies. The fact that the “Buddhist is not our national race” “If you want to be an extreme nationalist, don’t be Buddhist,” was highlighted in the CDs. Another point is that “Will all monks do and say be right?” Why will we worship the Buddha without knowing whether or not he has big eyes or sharp nose? I was accused of insulting all monks. With regard to the first point, the excerpt “Buddhist is not our national race” is very dangerous. Another point I want to mean is “We are not worshipping a person but we take faiths in the Buddha’s teachings. This is crystal clear for intelligent people.
Monks from “Organisation for Protection of National Race and Religion” (Mabatha) attended today’s court hearing which started at 11 a.m. Hin Lin Oo was sent to Monyawa jail afterwards.