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Last Update: 10 Minute ago
News code: 26279
Published Date: Monday 3 September 2018 - 12:10:56

World reacts to sentencing of Reuters journalists in Myanmar

World reacts to sentencing of Reuters journalists in Myanmar
IRAN  - A Myanmar court has found two Reuters journalists guilty of breaching a law on state secrets during their reporting of a massacre of Rohingya and sentenced them to seven years in prison, sparking an international outcry.

The US and British ambassadors who were present on Monday at the sentencing of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo called the verdict a blow for Myanmar's transition to democracy.

Scot Marciel, US ambassador to Myanmar, said he was "sad for Wa lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and their families, but also for Myanmar".

"It's deeply troubling for everybody who has struggled so hard here for media freedom," he said, adding that the verdict raises questions over the confidence the people of Myanmar have in their justice system.

Dan Chugg, British ambassador to Myanmar, speaking on behalf of the UK and member states of the European Union, said: "We are extremely disappointed by this verdict."

"The judge has appeared to have ignored evidence and to have ignored Myanmar law. This has dealt a hammer blow for the rule of law."

Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury, media adviser to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, also strongly condemned Monday's ruling.

"It is now an open secret that any media or any person who wants to reveal the atrocities of the Myanmar army and administration against the Rohingya people will face persecution by the Myanmar government," he said.

Bangladesh hosts more than 700,000 Rohingya who fled Myanmar following its army's security crackdown in Rakhine State last year.

Denmark, in a statement, urged Myanmar's government to undo "this injustice", while a spokesman at the Dutch embassy in Myanmar called on President Win Myint to release the two journalists as soon as possible.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had pleaded not guilty to violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, punishable by up to 14 years in prison. They contended they were framed by police.

The Reuters reporters were arrested on December 12 while investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya and other abuses involving soldiers and police in Inn Din, a village in Rakhine state.

Myanmar has denied allegations of atrocities made by thousands of refugees against its security forces, saying it conducted a legitimate counterinsurgency operation against Rohingya fighters.

But the military has acknowledged the killing of the 10 Rohingya men and boys at Inn Din after arresting the Reuters reporters.

Calling the decision "unfair" and "one-sided", Wa Lone said the verdict threatened Myanmar's democracy.

"It directly threatens our democracy and freedom of the press," he said as he was driven away along with Kyaw Soe Oo to begin their sentence.

"I would like to say it's very disappointing as it's destroyed the system [democracy] of our country and the way we would like to be. We will continue to face it."

Kyaw Soe Oo also said the reporters had committed no crime and that they would maintain their fight for press freedom.

"What I want to say to the government is: you can put us in jail, but do not close the eyes and ears of the people," he said.

The case has drawn worldwide attention as an example of how press freedom is suffering under the government of Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Kristian Schmidt, EU ambassador to Myanmar, in a post on Twitter, said the prison sentences of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should be "reviewed and they should be released immediately and unconditionally".


News Code: 26279
Published Date: Monday 3 September 2018 - 12:10:56
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