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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Myanmar jails New Zealander for 2.5 years over Buddha insult ad

A New Zealand bar manager and his two Myanmar colleagues were sentenced Tuesday to two and a half years in jail by a Yangon court for using a Buddha image to promote a cheap drinks night.

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

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 mocked-up photo of the Buddha wearing DJ headphones.

The trio were sentenced to two years in jail for insulting religion through written word or pictures and a further six months -- both terms carrying the punishment of hard labour -- for breaching local authority regulations.

They were held responsible for protests that erupted outside the bar over the image.

Judge Ye Lwin said that although Blackwood, 32, posted an apology, he had "intentionally plotted to insult religious belief" when he uploaded the photo.


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