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Myanmar court jails New Zealand bar manager for insulting Buddhist faith

Gorkha Post




A New Zealand bar manager and his two Myanmar associates have been sentenced to two and half years in jail by a Yangon court for using a Buddha picture to promote a cheap drinks night.

New Zealander Phil Blackwood, bar manager Htut Ko Lwin and bar owner Tun Thurein had all pleaded not guilty. They were sentenced to jail with labor, the court said on Tuesday.

Philip Blackwood, who worked at the VGastro bar in Yangon, was found guilty of insulting religion along with the bar’s Myanmar owner and manager, after the New Zealander posted the offending mock up photograph of the Buddha wearing DJ earphones.

They were held responsible for protest that erupted outside the bar over the picture.

Judge Ye Lwin said that in spite of the fact that Blackwood, 32, posted an apology he had “intentionally plotted to insult religious conviction” when he uploaded the photo.

He added that it was “unreasonable only to blame the foreigner” when explaining the guilty verdicts for 40-year-old bar owner Tun Thurein and manager Htut Ko Lwin, 26.

The image ad, posted on Facebook in December, triggered outrage in the former junta-ruled country, where surging Buddhist patriotism and religious violence has parked international concern.

Rights groups condemned the decision as an attack on freedom of expression and called the trio’s release.

“The authorities are clearly attempting to make an example with this case, but ironically all it has done is hurt the image of Myanmar and Buddhism,” said Matt Smith, executive director of the Bangkok-based group Fortify Rights.

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DPM Pokharel gets responsibility of Officiating PM





KATHMANDU — Ahead of his visit to the People’s Republic of China, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has given the responsibility of the Officiating PM to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Ishwar Pokharel.

PM Oli, who is also the chairman of Nepal Communist Party (CPN), is leaving here for China today.

Similarly, Oli has appointed party’s senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal as the officiating chairman of CPN, according to CPN central committee member Bishnu Rijal. Currently, another chairman of CPN Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ is out of the country.

Likewise, deputy parliamentary party leader of CPN Subas Chandra Nembang has got the responsibility of officiating parliamentary party leader in the absence of parliamentary party leader and PM Oli.

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