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Myanmar social media activist jailed for insulting military

An activist in Myanmar has been imprisoned for posting a satirical cartoon on Facebook. The move comes as international observers criticize the military's crackdown on free speech.

Chaw Sandi Tun, an activist in Myanmar, was sent to prison for posting a cartoon on Facebook seen as mocking the country's powerful military.

The 25-year-old was arrested in October after sharing a cartoon that depicted two military officials standing alongside Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition parts National League for Democracy (NDU), who is known for wearing a traditional sarong wrap. A caption beneath cartoon read: "If you love Mother Suu so much, why don't you wrap her sarong around your head?"

A court in Maubin township in the Ayeyawdayy delta region sentenced Chaw Sandi Tun to six months in jail for insulting the military. Her lawyer maintains that she didn't publish the post, and that her Facebook account had been hacked.

Social media crackdown

Human rights groups have criticized the military in Myanmar, which is led by Min Aung Hlaing (pictured, with Suu Kyi) and has maintained its influence despite a civilian government leading a mostly peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy over the past several years. Myanmar began opening up to the outside world in 2011, and in November of this year the NDU won nearly 80 percent of the seats in regional elections.

However, observers say the government continues to clamp down on freedom of expression online. At least six people were charged for posting satirical content on Facebook last month. Government scrutiny has increased as more and more citizens of the Southeast Asian country have embraced social media.

More than 38 million people in Myanmar are expected to become internet users by the end of the year according to the consultant group New Crossroads Asia.

blc/msh (AFP, dpa)

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