A poet, Maung Saungkha, has been arrested for writing a poem and posting it on Facebook. Maung Saungkha is a Burmese poet and pro-democracy activist. On 8th October 2015, he wrote a poem about having a portrait of a president tattooed on his penis. He posted the poem on Facebook.
Maung Saungkha outside the court after a court hearing.
Former President Thein Sein's spokesperson Zaw Htay saw the Facebook post and called for his prosecution. The police went to his house to arrest him but he had heard that charges had been filed against him and he went into hiding.
After nearly four weeks on the run, he was arrested on 5th November 2015 and sent to Insein prison. Since then he has been charged under Article 66(d) of the Telecommunications Act for defamation. He is currently being detained in Insein prison while his trial continues.
The rough translation of the line of the poem called "Image" is: "I have the President's portrait tattooed on my penis. How disgusted my wife is."
Maung Saungkha writes subversive poems and he stated that the "president" in his poem refers to all presidents in the world who are oppressing people. He stated that he doesn't have a wife or the tattoo. He said, "Even though it is said we have freedom of expression, now they charged me because I wrote a poem."
While in hiding he continued posting poems on Facebook and said, "you can imprison poets but you can never imprison poems."
Your action has helped release political prisoners recently and we need to make sure that no political prisoners are left behind. If we draw the attention of the NLD-led government to the remaining political prisoners, hopefully they will also be released.