Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Myanmar defended the jailing of two Reuters news agency journalists convicted of collecting state secrets. Wa Lone, and Kyaw Soe Oo were imprisoned last week after being found guilty of breaching the country's Official Secrets Act while reporting on the atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims during a military crackdown in Rakhine state. The two Myanmar nationals had been arrested while carrying official documents which had just been given to them by police officers in a restaurant. They alleged that they were set up by the police, a claim backed by a police witness in the trial, but which was dismissed by the court.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who is Myanmar's de facto leader had been under intense pressure to comment on both the Rohingya crisis and recently the journalists, following their arrest last week. Breaking her silence on Thursday at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Vietnam, she stated that the case against the international news agency journalists upheld the rule of law. "They were not jailed because they were journalists, they were jailed because the court has decided that they have broken the Official Secrets Act," Suu Kyi said.
This week, a UN rights body accused Myanmar of "waging a campaign against journalists" and the verdict has sparked criticism internationally, including from US Vice President Mike Pence. Suu Kyi, on the other hand, suggested that many critics had not actually read the verdict. Their plight has sparked global alarm over withering press freedoms in Myanmar and government efforts to curb reporting in northern Rakhine state- a crisis-hit region where troops are accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya people.
Tags : #Myanmar #Rohingyas #Arrest #Journalists #AungSanSuuKyi #Reuters