Myanmar journalists spend 500 days in jail after Rohingya reporting

World Today

Black balloons imprinted with portraits of journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo display during a movement of “Right to Information,” in hopes to free the two journalists jailed on charges of possessing state secrets in connection with their reporting about massacres against Rohingya Muslims, Sunday, Sept.16, 2018, in front of city hall in Yangon, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

Two reporters working for the Reuters news agency will remain in prison in Myanmar. The country’s Supreme Court rejected their appeal. There were jailed after investigating the killing of Rohingya Muslims. CGTN’s Gerald Tan has more.

Behind bars — Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have now spent 500 days in prison.

A release looks increasingly uncertain after Myanmar’s highest court this week upheld their seven-year prison sentences.

Their defense law Khin Maung Zaw expressed disappointment at the verdict, saying, “It damages the prestige of our country. It damages the press freedom, freedom to information and freedom of expression. All these things are damaged by this decision.”

The Pulitzer-prize winning journalists were arrested in December 2017 for reporting on the Rohingya crisis and the killing of Muslim villagers in Myanmar.

They were convicted of breaking a colonial-era law by disseminating secret information that could harm national security. But their lawyers say they were set up by police.

Their trial and appeal to the Supreme Court sparked concerns about shrinking press freedoms in Myanmar.

“The Secretary-General remains concerned at the continued detention of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. It is unacceptable that these journalists were prosecuted for reporting on major human rights violations against the Rohingya in Rakhine state,” Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

Myanmar’s state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi insists the journalists had a fair trial and that their conviction has nothing to do with freedom of expression.

That has stopped neither the chorus of condemnation nor calls for release of these two international journalists.