A Banner insulting the believers of the State-Acknowledged Religion hanged at the Hlaing-Hteik-Htar Bus-Shelter

December 14, 2013
Ko Lay

Haling Hite Htar

An advertisement printed on the vinyl poster with the title “The Vision of Hlaing-Hteik-Htar” is hanged at the Hlaing-Hteik-Htar Bus-Shelter – the bus that transports along Yangon, Danuphyu, Kyonetani and Hlegu towns – and its section 2(C) includes an insult to a religion, which says “Believers of Islam/ Muslim Nationalities and the evil will not be allowed to come along”.

Regarding that, M-Media contactedthebus ticketoffice from the Dagon-Ayar Bus Terminal from HlaingTharyar, Yangon.The reply was that, the announcement had been made only by the consent of bud-company owner but not by persuasion of any organization, it was written on the small paper before and it has been more than a month since it was printed on the Vinyl banner and displayed at every bus-shelter and office where the tickets are sold.

As regards the statement on the section 2(C), they said due to the situations in the country they just intended to make a clear separation for the sake of the nationality and religionand the word “evil” was only meant to the drunk and the troublemakers but not to the Muslims.

When M-Media consulted a Legal Advisor, it was explained that as the conjunction “and” is used in their announcement section 2(C) for connecting the two words “Muslims” and “Evils” together, it is clear that it is a religious insult where believers of Islam have been equalized and symbolized as “evils”, and it is against the section 295(A) of the Myanmar Penal Code, Chapter XV Offences Relating to Religion.

It has been prescribed in the section 295of the Myanmar Penal Code, Chapter XV Offences Relating to Religion, as follows.

“Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any of worship, or any object held sacred by any class or person with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any of person or with the knowledge that any class of likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as insult to their religion, shall be punished with either description for a term which may extend to two years or with fine, or with both.”
Similarly, Section 298 says

“Whoever, with the deliberate intention of wounding the religious feelings of any person, utters any word or makes any sound in the hearing of that person or makes any gesture in the sight of that person or places any object in the sight of that person, shall be punished~ with imprisonment of either description for a term which may be extend to one year, or with fine or with both.”

In the recent years in Myanmar, there have been overt and covert insults and offences against Islam and the Muslims of Myanmar, but obviously no adequate action by the authorities.

On the 15th of November this year in Bahan, Yangon, during the protest against the OIC delegations which was organized by the Rakhine Youth Network, the monks held a vinyl banner offending Islam, and even though it has been announced afterwards that there would be legal actions regarding the case, there has been no action revealed  so far.

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