Statement of PEN Myanmar(4/2019)

Statement of PEN Myanmar(4/2019)

1st November 2019, Yangon, Myanmar

Penalizing ‘Peacocks’ Generation’ is neglecting Freedom of Expression

1. Members of Peacocks’ Generation Than-Chat group, Zeyar Lwin, Paing Ye Thu, Paing Phyo Min, Zaw Linn Htut and Kay Khine Tun, were arrested on 22nd April 2019. They were charged with article 505(A) by the military. On 30th October, Mayangone Township court sentenced them 1 year in prison with work.

2. Article 19 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 of which Myanmar was an initial signer states that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference”.

3. Freedom of opinion, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the right to free from discrimination because of one’s opinion and belief, freedom of association and right to be a part of an association are fundamental components of freedom of expression.

4. Freedom of expression can include expressions that are disliked and unacceptable by others. Therefore, freedom of expression is not an absolute right of an individual but it is a collective right.

5. Than-Chat is a poetic expression performed with traditional drums and other percussion instruments. It is a Myanmar tradition way to express issues that do not seem right, issues that need to be fixed and issues aimed for the good of many especially during Myanmar lunar new year.

6. In expressing issues that do not seem right, their opinions and thinking, Peacocks’ Generation may include expressions that cannot be acceptable by some persons or organizations.

7. Even though, PEN Myanmar hold that the members of Peacocks’ Generation are just student youths and they are just practically utilizing their democratic right by expressing their opinion freely.

8. Although the decision was made by a proper judication body, we assume that it neglects one of the functions of a democratic state, freedom of expression. Therefore, we object the court’s decision.

PEN Myanmar Center

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