A Burmese hip-hop artist, aged 38, has been found guilty of criticizing Myanmar’s military-controlled government and has been handed a 20-year prison sentence, as confirmed by a family member on Thursday, reports the AP.
The sentence, issued on Wednesday, was given to Byu Har, also known as Min Oat Myanmar, and stands out as one of the most stringent penalties assigned to any detained celebrities who’ve spoken out against the military rulers that assumed power from the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi in 2021.
Byu Har was apprehended on May 24 at his residence in Yangon, shortly after criticizing Min Aung Hlaing, the leader of the military government, and the electric power minister. In a livestream broadcast on his Facebook page, he accused them of inadequate electricity supply to Yangon, the largest city in Myanmar.
During the livestream, he labeled Min Aung Hlaing as “incompetent”. He referred to the electricity minister as a “fool,” noting that the electricity supply had been more reliable during Suu Kyi’s administration.
Five days following his arrest, state-run media declared that he had been taken into custody due to incitement and propaganda that could disrupt state stability.
In Myanmar, also recognized as Burma, prolonged power cuts have significantly burdened the populace. Between March and early June, daily power outages were escalated to eight hours a day in Yangon to conserve energy, a measure that has since been scaled back to four hours daily.
A family member of Byu Har, speaking on condition of anonymity due to apprehensions of personal arrest, confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday that she received news about his verdict from Insein Prison, a notorious detention facility in the country.
The charges against him included incitement, allegedly inducing fear, disseminating false information, or provoking against a government employee. Additionally, he faced charges under the state’s treason statute, although the specific conviction details remained unclear.
Local media also reported on the verdict.
As per the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, an advocacy organization monitoring arrests in Myanmar, approximately 4,000 individuals have been killed and 24,410 arrested since the military coup.
Celebrities have been particularly singled out for supporting protest movements or expressing solidarity with civilians who lost their lives due to the military’s actions.