Free Knowledge... From People... To People
Search by Date Myanmar Version Mobile Version
 Miscellaneous NEWS
Updated on July 10, 2018 From Mizzima

Tragic turn of the screw for jailed Reuters journalists as case goes to trial

Myanmar Judge Ye Lwin has decided to proceed to trial with charges against two Reuters journalists accused of violating Myanmar's colonial-era Official Secrets Act in their coverage of the Rakhine crisis.
        The decision was announced in a hearing this morning that lasted less than 20 minutes.
        Both journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo pled not guilty in the hearing.
        The trail is set to begin on 16 July.
        Mr Stephen J. Adler, President and Editor-in-Chief, Reuters expressed his disappointment with the turn of events.
        “We are deeply disappointed that the court declined to end this protracted and baseless proceeding against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. These Reuters journalists were doing their jobs in an independent and impartial way, and there are no facts or evidence to suggest that they’ve done anything wrong or broken any law. They should be released and reunited with their families, friends, and colleagues. Today’s decision casts serious doubt on Myanmar’s commitment to press freedom and the rule of law,” said Mr Adler in a press statement.
        The pictures of Wa Lone's signature thumbs up, of Kyaw Soe Oo holding his tiny daughter, had started to look eerily similar as the 29th pre-trial hearing approached well over six months after they were arrested.
        This appears to be only the beginning for the pair arrested last December following their reporting on the slayings of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in the village of Inn Din.
        Despite the fact that their work was followed by disciplinary actions against seven soldiers involved in “clearance operations” that have resulted in more than 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to neighbouring Bangladesh, the only thing standing between the Reuters journalists and a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison appears to be the claim that they had “secret documents” in their possession.
        Two police officers, Moe Yan Naing and Khin Maung Lin, were arrested at the same time as the Reuters journalists in December 2017. The first went on to offer what was characterized as a bombshell testimony implicating senior officers in a plot to entrap the reporters, while the other was mysteriously absent from court when called on to testify on June 18.
        On top of this, in a recent interview with local Myanmar media, defence attorney Than Zaw Aung said that based on what he had been told by his clients, the allegedly secret documents contained information that was publicly available. He said the same for documents extracted from the journalists' phones.
        “And if they were secret papers that had been leaked, why not take action against the relevant departments over the loss of the documents?” Than Zaw Aung asked, according to the media report.
        In addition to the case bringing a steady succession of witnesses engaged in what some observers claim are poorly planned set-up tactics, the pair are accused of violating a low that has been dismissed as a colonial relic that is in desperate need of amendment, namely the requirement of proof that possession of secret documents poses a genuine risk to national security.
        The ruling National League for Democracy-led government had been mute on the case until State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi offered oddly contradictory statements in a June 8 interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK that the Reuters journalists “broke the Official Secret Act,” but that, “we cannot say whether they were guilty or not.”

Rights groups have expressed their concerns over the case.
        Human Rights Watch as an example claims the case smacked of the “tactics long-favored by past military juntas.”
        There is constant uncertainty on the part of the media in Myanmar as to what can and cannot be published, with charges under Article 66(d) of the 2013 Telecommunications Law having become a favorite for muzzling reporting deemed to be sensitive. Even when charges are dismissed, the lives of these journalists are turned upside down when they are unable to make bail and are forced to fight for their freedom from the inside of a cell.
        At the very least, this type of legal harassment sends a very strong message from the state that a line has been crossed.
        Clearly defining these lines will require clearly defined laws – laws that allow journalists like Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo to pursue their profession with dignity and within their legal rights. For that, Myanmar appears to have a long way to go.

View Count : 507 | Posted by

~ Latest News ~

Dolphin population in protected area declines slightly: survey
Workers call on the govt to protect their rights
Ride on: Horse club wins tourism award
The NLD’s bold bid for charter reform
Hinthada residents petition for Myitsone dam project termination
WCS to educate Mandalay villagers on saving migratory birds
Mytel to Launch MytelPay This Year
Three imprisoned Kachin activists receive human rights award
Two get death penalty in murder of lawyer Ko Ni
Lee deplores police violence to Loikaw protesters
Death sentence for two killers of lawyer U Ko Ni
Three imprisoned Kachin activists receive human rights award
Charges to be dropped against ethnic minority protestors over statue dispute
QR code payment system set to launch this year
Two Myanmar nationals among dead in Delhi hotel fire: embassy
Seven students sentenced to hard labour over Mandalay protest
Nearly 1,000 locals protest against continued use of Taungnawin dam
Wild elephant found dead in Thabeikkyin Township
Number of workers leaving to find work reaches 5 million
Travel permits for foreigners visiting Mogok fast-tracked
Police crack down on protest in Loikaw against divisive statue
Hospital to provide free hearing tests for World Hearing Day
Dismissed Tharabar Hotel workers stage protest in ancient Bagan city
Gold deposit found in Sagaing Region
Hundreds of workers stage protest in Yangon
Six jade scavengers die in cliff collapse
Frenchman arrested for flying drone over Myanmar parliament
Amendment backers rally in Mandalay
Thousands of workers march for stronger labour laws
Indonesian fishing trawler seized with 23 fishermen in Myanmar waters
UN reiterates concerns over Rakhine and Chin State violence
Activists arrested over independence hero statue protest
YCDC Weighs the Merits of E-bikes in Yangongeorgia
Police break up Karenni youths' protect camp for movement of General Aung San's statue
Pastor kidnapped in Rakhine reported killed
Anti-Human Trafficking Police help Nepalese woman
Wild elephant poached in Ngapudaw
Rogue yogi: a fortune-teller faces trial for fraud
Red Dot closure concerns spread to industry, draws light on licensing procedures
Thousands protest against Myitsone dam in Kachin
More News