Myanmar: Two journalists face up to 14 years in prison for their work on the Rohingya crisis
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are two journalists working for international news agency Reuters. They have formally been charged with breaching Myanmar’s Officials Secrets Act, and are now facing 14 years in prison.
They were investigating the brutal military crackdown in Rakhine State against the Rohingya minority, and their arrest is a blatant attack on freedom of expression in Myanmar.
According to the Myanmar Police Force, the pair were detained for “possessing important and secret government documents related to Rakhine State and security forces (with the intent) to send them to a foreign news agency”. Following their arrest, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were held incommunicado for two weeks, during which time they did not have any access to lawyers, family members or to the outside world. They were formally charged with breaching Myanmar’s Officials Secrets Act in January.
The arrest of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo appears to be aimed at preventing them, as well as other journalists, from independently reporting on the situation in Rakhine State.
There has been a worrying erosion of the space for a free press in Myanmar, where journalists and other media workers face ongoing restrictions in connection with their work. The operations of independent media outlets have been increasingly undermined, and those who report on sensitive subjects – in particular the situation of the Rohingya minority – can face intimidation and harassment and at times arrest, detention, prosecution and even imprisonment.
We must stand up for these brave journalists, who were simply doing their jobs.
Please join our Pocket Protest SMS network and add your name to a letter we are sending to the Myanmar authorities, urging them to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, as they have been detained solely for the peaceful exercise of their human right to freedom of expression, and drop the charges against them;
- Repeal or amend all laws – including the1923 Official Secrets Act – which criminalize or impose arbitrary or sweeping restrictions on the human right to freedom of expression, and bring Myanmar legislation into line with international human rights law and standards.
Text FREE + your name to 70505 to add your name, and demand justice for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.