Complainant seeks withdrawal of Ko Swe Win defamation charge


YANGON — The complainant in a defamation case being brought against a prominent journalist is considering dropping the charge after an intervention from his mother.

U Kyaw Myo Shwe, a member of nationalist group Ma Ba Tha’s Mandalay chapter, had made a complaint against Myanmar Now chief reporter Ko Swe Win for allegedly defaming firebrand monk U Wirathu.

Kyaw Myo Shwe reported the comments to Wirathu, who had demanded an apology within seven days or a lawsuit would be filed. But he is now dropping the case, but only to appease his 78-year-old mother, he told Frontier.

“I’m [making the complaint] because it is necessary for the sake of our race and religion. I wouldn’t close the case if I wasn’t for my mother,” he said on Thursday. 

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

However, authorities in Maha Aung Myay Township, Mandalay Region, where the original complaint was made, said they were unable to close the case.

“We, the police force, do not have the authority to close the case if it has already been opened. If you want to close the case, you can only close it at the court,” U Kyaw Thu, police lieutenant and Number 7 police station in Maha Aung Myat said.

Kyaw Thu told Kyaw Myo Shwe should write a letter explaining why he had originally opened the case, and why he now wants to close it, and send it to the police station.

In a Facebook post, Swe Win alleged that Wirathu had committed parajika – an act warranting expulsion from the monkhood – for publicly lauding the death of lawyer and National League for Democracy advisor U Ko Ni, who was gunned down outside Yangon International Airport in January.

In a Facebook post, under his profile “Ba Kaung”, Swe Win said he could not comment on the development.

“If they go on to file a lawsuit against me, I will face it in accordance with the law. I will not react against them,” he wrote in response to reporters’ questions.

Swe Win is one of Myanmar’s most well-known journalists.

After his appointment as Myanmar Now chief correspondent in April 2016, Swe Win was lauded for an investigation into the abuse of two adolescent maids who were kept as slaves at a tailor shop in downtown Yangon.

The report resulted in the resignation of four members of the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission and disciplinary action for officers at the Kyauktada Township police station, who had demurred from investigating the case before his report was published.

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Support our independent journalism and get exclusive behind-the-scenes content and analysis

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters.

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar