On 12 April 2019, filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi - who is currently suffering from a life-threatening illness - was arrested by military authorities in Myanmar, sued for “insulting and defaming the Army”. Concerned for his life should he be sentenced to imprisonment, IFFR and IDFA call for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds. We urge our network to take action by signing this letter of support today.
We - filmmakers, film professionals, festivals, and organisations from around the world - are expressing our profound dismay at the recent detention of our fellow filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi and we are calling for his immediate release.
On 12 April 2019, filmmaker Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi was arrested by the Myanmar authorities after being sued by a military officer for “insulting and defaming the Army.” Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi is a prominent filmmaker in Myanmar, and as such, an important voice in cinema in general. Additionally, Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi is the co-founder of the Human Rights Human Dignity Film Festival in Yangon.
After publishing various Facebook posts expressing public concern towards the military-drafted 2008 Constitution, he was detained and charged under two violations, both carrying a maximum prison sentence of two years. Recently, he has been denied bail and is now awaiting his trial scheduled on 25 April.
Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi’s physical health is currently very fragile, having been operated to treat liver cancer only three months ago.
We are gravely concerned for his health and fear for his life, should Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi be sentenced to imprisonment.
We therefore plead for compassion for his serious health condition, and call authorities in Myanmar for the immediate release of Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi and his right to bail on humanitarian grounds.
Orwa Nyrabia, International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Bero Beyer, International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Please show your support for Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi by signing this statement and forwarding to your respective networks.
Update: April 30
Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi's request for bail was denied for the second time on April 25. He appeared to be extremely fragile during the hearing. His health is deteriorating alarmingly and care following the treatment of his liver cancer is of major concern at this stage.
We urge the authorities in Myanmar to immediately grant bail to Min Htin Ko Ko Gyi on humanitarian grounds. The next hearing will be on 9 May.
Photo in header: © Myo Myint Swe