In December 2014, Htin Linn Oo, a prominent writer and information officer for the National League for Democracy in Myanmar led by Aung San Suu Kyi, was charged under sections 295(a) and 298 of the Penal Code for “insulting religion” and “wounding religious feelings”. The charges were brought against Htin Linn Oo following a speech he gave at a literary event in October 2014, in which he promoted religious tolerance and criticised members of the Buddhist clergy (the Sangha) for misusing Buddhism as a basis to incite religious hatred and discrimination against minority religious groups.
Since 2012, waves of anti-Muslim violence had been spreading throughout Myanmar, linked to ultra-nationalist sentiment and anti-Muslim propaganda circulating on social media. Groups such as 969 and the Organisation for the Protection of Race and Religion (known by the acronym Ma Ba Tha) led by prominent monks, delivered sermons on the ‘existential threat’ that Islam posed to Buddhism in Myanmar and called for boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses.
In June 2015, Htin Linn Oo was convicted of “insulting religion” and sentenced to two and a half years in prison with hard labour. He was later released under a Presidential pardon on 17 April 2016, along with other 82 other prisoners.
International Commission of Jurists