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Myanmar imprisons reporters who covered Rohingya crisis

by Onize Ohikere
Posted 9/05/18, 11:12 am

The wives of two journalists who covered the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar called for their husbands’ release after the two men received seven-year prison sentences. Yangon northern district Judge Ye Lwin on Monday said Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who worked for the U.K.-based Reuters news agency, violated the Official Secrets Act when they collected confidential documents in the country also known as Burma. The journalists were reporting on the security crackdown against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state that led some 700,000 people to flee into neighboring Bangladesh. They both pleaded not guilty and said they were framed by police.

“I want to say they are obviously threatening our democracy and destroying freedom of press in our country,” Wa Lone said after the verdict. His wife, Pan Ei Mon, who gave birth to their first child last month, said she tried to remain hopeful throughout the court proceedings. “After yesterday’s verdict, it feels like my hopes have been destroyed,” she told reporters on Tuesday. Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife, Chit Su Win, said she believed the reporters would be acquitted. “They are innocent. They were doing their jobs as journalists,” she said. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called for their release in a Twitter post. “Freedom of religion and freedom of the press are essential to a strong democracy,” he said.

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Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD's Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria. Follow her on Twitter @onize_ohiks.

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