Myanmar actress sues transgender beauty queen for defamation

A prominent transgender beauty queen in Myanmar has found herself behind bars after a famous actress sued her over insults posted on a popular celebrity gossip page.

Myo Ko Ko San, an idol to Myanmar’s small gay and transgender community, was arrested when she landed at Yangon International Airport on Tuesday after returning from a trip to Thailand.

Her incarceration ahead of her trial was sparked by a lawsuit filed under Myanmar’s broad and controversial telecoms law by a well-known film and soap opera actress.

“Myo Ko Ko San is being sued under section 66 (d) of the telecommunications law by actress Wut Hmone Shwe Yee,” Yankin Township police officer Aung Ko Ko Myat told AFP on Thursday.

“She sued (Myo Ko Ko San) for abusing her on social media.”

Hmone Shwe Yee accused Myo Ko Ko San of being behind insulting stories about her on the Cele Cele Small Facebook page, which is filled with salacious celebrity gossip.

Several posts on the anonymous page have accused Wut Hmone Shwe Yee of colluding with military cronies, commented on her alleged sexual relations or criticised her looks.

Myo Ko Ko San came to fame when she represented Myanmar at the transgender Miss International Queen beauty pageant in Thailand in 2015.

She is currently being held alone in a cell in the woman’s block for her own safety after appearing in court on Wednesday. Her trial is expected at the end of the month. 

The case is the latest in a string of arrests under Myanmar’s controversial sweeping telecommunications law.

Defamation prosecutions have risen sharply since Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD party took office, after winning the first free elections in a generation. 

Activists said seven people were sued between when the law was brought in by the previous military-backed government in 2013 and when the NLD took over in March. 

Since then, at least 39 cases for online defamation have been brought. 

On Thursday afternoon a gang of supporters had gathered outside Yankin township police to show their support for Myo Ko Ko San. 

Fan Nay Ko said: “We are here to support her even we are not sure to be able to see her.”

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