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RANGOON — A well-known cartoonist based in Rangoon appears to have been blocked from using Facebook after his personal account was linked to a comic poking fun at the incoming government.
Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Monday, 48-year-old Maung Maung Fountain said he believed his account was flagged by other users because of his latest cartoon, which depicts a woman in a red dress holding a crown, hovering over two young boys.
The boys in the cartoon say to the woman, who appears to be an abstract reference to Aung San Suu Kyi, “You said what you wanted to do, but you got angry when we said what we wanted to do.” Maung Maung Fountain said he had received some negative commentary after a Facebook user shared his cartoon and identifying him by the name he uses on his personal Facebook account.
Shortly thereafter, the account was blocked, leading him to believe that other users had flagged him for inappropriate content.
The cartoonist admitted that his illustration referenced a recent upset within the National League for Democracy (NLD), Suu Kyi’s party, which won a Nov. Suu Kyi has been tight-lipped about her party’s plans for governance, and has drawn controversy over her reaction to lawmakers that had requested ministerial positions.
Maung Maung Fountain, a regular contributor to The Irrawaddy and other local journals, said the incident was “totally unexpected” during the transition period, when he expected to see freedom of expression advance in the former authoritarian state. “During the time of the military junta, we fought with our pens much harder than we do now.” Expressing his concern that online reactions to his work had sparked vitriolic debate, Maung Maung Fountain said he hoped that online intimidation would not prevent the next generation of satirists from taking a firm position on current affairs.
Their numbers quickly swelled from a few hundred to several thousand people who became increasingly ecstatic as new results were shown on a giant television outside the party headquarters.
Sonny Nyunt Thein, the head of the influential Myanmar Egress policy centre, which has advised President Thein Sein on several of his democratic reforms, said the NLD was heading for a landslide soon after the polls closed.The scale of her apparent victory would effectively counter claims, including some from Ms Suu Kyi, that the election had not been free and fair – one of the key conditions for the lifting of United States and European Union sanctions."If [her victory] is like this, it's clearly a free and fair election.Burma has a rich history of political cartoons, dating back to the early 20th century.Under military rule, drawings were the sharpest tool of quick-witted dissidents, and the tradition has stayed strong through decades of censorship.Maung Maung Fountain said he believes political cartoonists play an important role in democracies, even those that are more developed.