Foreign Press Clubs Call for Immediate Release of Reuters Journalists in Myanmar
Three months ago, Myanmar police invited two Reuters reporters to a restaurant in northern Yangon. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men who were buried in a mass after being hacked to death or shot by ethnic Rakhine Buddhist villagers and soldiers.
At the dinner, police handed the pair some documents. They were arrested almost immediately afterward and later charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
On the 100th day since the arrest of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Foreign Correspondents' Clubs throughout Asia are again calling for their immediate release. The two journalists were engaged in normal reporting activities, and had not committed any wrongdoing. All charges against them should be dropped.
Their trial is now underway, with a verdict possible in the coming weeks. The outcome will have repercussions for Myanmar and the entire region, where press freedom is increasingly under attack.
We call on Aung San Suu Kyi and her civilian government to act to defend press freedom as the country undertakes its transition to democracy. It is vital that Myanmar respects the beneficial role of a free and independent media and ensures that journalists are able to work without threat of retaliation.
We also call on all those who believe in press freedom to keep up the pressure on authorities who want to silence journalists, in Myanmar and elsewhere around the globe. One easy place to start is by signing a petition for their release: goo.gl/1kPTwX
“We are not doing anything wrong,'' Kyaw Soe Oo told reporters after the pair were formally charged. “Please help us by uncovering the truth.”
Foreign Correspondents Association Singapore
Foreign Correspondents' Club of China
National Press Club of Australia
SOPA Editorial Committee
The Foreign Correspondents' Club, Hong Kong
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan
The Foreign Correspondents' Club of South Asia, New Delhi