More than 250 people faced criminal charges for expressing their opinions on social media in the first half of the year, according to a report by local free speech group Athan.
The report said 70 cases with 250 respondents were filed over opinions expressed on social media from January to June this year.
“We’ll submit the report to the Pyithu Hluttaw (Lower House) and Amyotha Hluttaw (Upper House) as they are capable of legislation,” said Maung Saung Kha, director of Athan.
The report was launched in Yangon on Monday in a bid to pass reforms that would promote and protect freedom of expression in the country.
Activists, students, journalists, artists and farmers who oppose the new farmland law are among those who have been threatened with legal action for expressing their opinions.
The report stressed that curtailing freedom of expression, blocking the internet, banning reporters from covering news, and restricting information flow violate freedom of expression.
“Forty people, who were involved in 26 lawsuits, were sued under the Telecommunications Law for comments posted on social media. Among them were ordinary people, media members, and activists,” the report said.
Seven cases, with 43 respondents, including students, and peace and ethnic affairs activists, were charged under the Peaceful Assembly and Peaceful Procession Law.
Similarly, the Tatmadaw (military), government, and ruling National League for Democracy filed 11 cases with 50 respondents under Penal Code sections 505(a), (b) and (c), it said.
Likewise, 21 cases with 78 respondents were charged with violations of the Law Protecting the Privacy and Security of Citizens.
The data in the report was collected from case observers, court observers, research, interviews and discussions with experts and legal officers.
Athan is fighting for the abolition of the sections 66(d), 68(a), 77 and 789 of the Telecommunications Law, section 8(f) of the Law Protecting the Privacy and Security of Citizens, and the Electronic Communication Law.
It also seeks the repeal of sections 124(a), 505(a) and 505(b) of the Penal Code, which it says damage freedom of expression in the country.