In a case seen as a test of democracy in the country, a Myanmar judge on Monday found two Reuters journalists guilty of breaching a law on state secrets while reporting the Rohingya crisis in December, 2017.
In a case seen as a test of democracy in the country, a Myanmar judge on Monday found two Reuters journalists guilty of breaching a law on state secrets while reporting the Rohingya crisis in December, 2017. Yangon northern district judge Ye Lwin ruled that Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, breached the colonial-era Official Secrets Act and sentenced them to seven-year imprisonment. “The defendants … have breached Official Secrets Act section 3.1.c, and are sentenced to seven years,” the judge ruled. The incident has created an international outrage with press freedom advocates, the United Nations, the European Union and countries including the United States, Canada and Australia had called for the journalists’ acquittal.
What was the case?
The two reporters were arrested on December 12. At the time of their arrests, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya men and other abuses involving soldiers and police in Inn Din, a village in Rakhine State.
On the international front, Myanmar has denied allegations of atrocities made by refugees against its security forces. The country has maintained that it conducted a legitimate counterinsurgency operation against Muslim militants.
However, in this particular case, the military acknowledged the killing of the 10 Rohingya at Inn Din after arresting the Reuters reporters.
The probe carried out by a United Nations mandated fact-finding mission said last week that Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent”.
What the journalists contend?
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have claimed that the police planted documents on them in the course of their work in reporting on Myanmar’s violence-plagued Rakhine State.
After the conviction, Wa Lone addressed a cluster of friends and reporters and said that he has “no fear as he has done nothing wrong”. Kyaw Soe Oo also said the reporters had committed no crime and that they would continue their fight for press freedom.