Myanmar pardons journalists
by Onize Ohikere
Posted 5/07/19, 10:25 am
Myanmar’s president on Tuesday pardoned two Reuters journalists who spent more than a year in jail for reporting on the military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in the country also known as Burma. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were among 6,520 prisoners President Win Myint pardoned. Zaw Zaw, the chief of Insein Prison, confirmed their release.
A Myanmar court in September sentenced the men to seven years in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act by collecting confidential documents from two policemen. The officers worked in Rakhine state, where security forces pushed more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims out of their homes and into neighboring Bangladesh in 2017. The Myanmar Supreme Court rejected the journalists’ final appeal on April 23. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s coverage of the crackdown received the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting this month.
“I’m really happy and excited to see my family and my colleagues,” Wa Lone said moments after his release. “I can’t wait to go to my newsroom. I am a journalist, and I am going to continue to be.”
Steve Adler, Reuters editor-in-chief, welcomed the pardon: “Since their arrests 511 days ago, they have become symbols of the importance of press freedom around the world.”
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Onize is a reporter for WORLD Digital based in Abuja, Nigeria.