The Muslim publisher of a calendar that used the word ‘Rohingya’ to refer to the persecuted Islamic ethnic group has been thrown in Yangon’s Insein Prison, alongside four of his associates.
All five face criminal charges of intending to cause “fear or alarm to the public”, the Myanmar Times reported, with the publication, which features quotes from government officials in the 1950s and 1960s advocating interfaith harmony.
The charge carries a potential two-year prison term.
On November 23, they were fined K1 million for offences under the Printing and Publishing Law – and the print shop was raided and sealed off – but members of Buddhist nationalist organization Ma Ba Tha deemed the punishment “not acceptable”.
“It will look like an invitation to illegal action,” senior monk U Parmaukkha told the Times. “I approve of the new charges and await the judgment of the court.”
The calendar quoted prime minister U Nu as describing the Rohingya as their own ethnicity – a claim disputed by the current government and many people throughout Myanmar, who refer to members of the group as ‘Bengalis’, or illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
It also features a 1946 speech made by independence leader Aung San who implored Buddhist and Muslim groups to live together peacefully.