Myanmar junta arrests rapper who made online complaints about power shortages

Byu Har said life was better under the democratically elected government headed by Aung San Suu Kyi.
By RFA Burmese
Myanmar junta arrests rapper who made online complaints about power shortages In a video posted to Facebook on May 23, 2023, rapper Byu Har lists his complaints about Myanmar’s Ministry of Electricity and Energy. While addressing the government, he says, “if you want to arrest me, just come.”
Facebook video screenshot

Myanmar’s junta on Wednesday arrested a hip-hop artist for a video published on social media in which he complained about electricity shortages and said that life was better under the democratically elected government that the military toppled.

Rapper Byu Har, who is the son of prominent musician Naing Myanmar, posted the video on Facebook where he called out the “minister of electricity,” calling the holder of the office, which he could not name, “a fool.” The ministry’s proper name is the Ministry of Electric Power and the minister of electric power is Thaung Han.

“I want to tell the minister of electricity who is wearing that elegant uniform, and the employees under the ministry of electricity that you guys are all stupid fools,” he said in the video. “ Even under the old lady’s [Aung San Suu Kyi’s] government, not only did we have enough electricity without any power outage, her government even lowered the rate of electricity bills.”

The country is currently experiencing power shortages, and residents have told RFA’s Burmese Service that many areas of Yangon, where Byu Har lives, get power for only 10 hours per day – five in the morning and another five in the afternoon and evening. Some areas of the city, such as the area where retired military officers live, are supplied with full power, though.

“You can’t supply enough electricity to us. You can barely supply us every five hours. Even that is not certain,” Byu Har said. 

In addition to the criticism of Myanmar’s electric power ministry, Byu Har also had choice words for the junta’s leader, Sen. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing.

“The guy who is governing the country is also a stupid incompetent fool himself,” he said. “You guys have no [expletive deleted] skill at all. Even if a fool like me were to govern this country, I promise that we would have enough electricity with no power outages. … I am cursing at you because I don’t have the electricity. Got it? If you want to arrest me, just come.”

A source close to the family confirmed the arrest to RFA and said that Byu Har is being held in the North Dagon Police station in the eastern part of Yangon. His father Naing Myanmar was not available for comment. 

Byu Har and others like him are brave for telling the truth in a public forum like Facebook, human rights lawyer and legal analyst Kyee Myint told RFA.

“What they are saying is all true, but it’s a pain in the neck for people who don’t want to hear such criticisms,” said Kyee Myint. “They criticize neither to gain power nor to ruin the country. They criticize it to help the country get better.” 

He said that criticizing the junta over the electricity shortage was an example of strength and love for the country.

“But the junta arresting him for such criticisms indicates that the country is failing and that the rule of law is not working either,” Kyee Myint said.

Translated by Myo Min Aung. Edited by Eugene Whong and Matt Reed.


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