(New York, NY) — A court in Myanmar today sentenced filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi to a year’s hard labor for posts he made on social media that were critical of the military. In a statement, PEN America called the sentence an abhorrent affront to freedom of expression and artistic freedom.

“Imprisoning Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi, a prominent filmmaker and human rights advocate, for merely speaking his mind on a personal Facebook page demonstrates the growing lengths to which Myanmar will go to silence dissent and restrict the free flow of ideas,” said Julie Trébault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “Ko Ko Gyi’s conviction is one more iteration of a larger, calculated crackdown by the Burmese government against artists, journalists, activists, and any other cultural practitioners whose ideas pose a threat to those in power. We emphatically call for an end to the persecution of artistic voices in Myanmar.”

Ko Ko Gyi was sentenced under section 505(a) of the country’s penal code, which criminalizes making, publishing, or sharing “any statement, rumour or report” that might induce any military service member “to mutiny or otherwise disregard or fail in his duty.” The court has not yet decided if it will pursue a sentence under the country’s telecommunications laws, under which Ko Ko Gyi has also been charged. You can read PEN America’s past statement on Ko Ko Gyi’s trial here.

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC here.

CONTACT: Stephen Fee, Director of Communications, sfee@pen.org, +1 202 309 8892


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.