WHAT: Protest against the unjust sentencing of Reuters Journalists in Myanmar.
WHEN: 11:00 am, Thursday, 27th September
WHERE: Myanmar Embassy, 19a Charles St, Mayfair, London W1J 5DX
The International Observatory of Human Rights is organising a peaceful protest in front of the Myanmar Embassy to petition for the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.
These journalists are just the latest in a long line of human rights violations in Myanmar and we felt that it was important to make a stand against this travesty of justice to support freedom of expression. Therefore, IOHR is calling for all to show solidarity for these journalists by joining the protest on the 27th September.
IOHR Director, Ms Valerie Peay will be delivering an open letter to the State Councillor Aung San Suu Kyi calling for their immediate release and welcoming any other voices who would like to support this protest.
Should you need any further information on the event, please do not hesitate to contact [email protected]
Attack on press freedom
Two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were jailed for 7 years on 3rd of September in a trial considered as a travesty of justice and an attack on press freedom. A judge in Myanmar found the two reporters guilty of ‘breaching a law on state secrets’ after the two were investigating the killing of ten Rohingya Muslims from the village of Inn Din, Rakhine State.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were initially arrested on 12 December 2017 and denied bail.
At the time that Lone and Soe Oo were arrested, they were investigating a mass killing of Rohingya men by Buddhist villagers and Myanmar military officers in the village of Inn Din in Rakhine state. Their report detailed the lives of 10 men including fishermen, students and shopkeepers, who were shot by military officers in the village. The report also included the shocking details of the deaths of two of the men who were “hacked to death” by Buddhist villagers, and included further facts about how the men were buried in mass graves.
The two journalists pleaded not guilty to the violation of the colonial-era Official Secrets Act and pleaded that they were caught up in a case of entrapment in which two police officers framed them while they investigated the massacre. The two officers arranged a meeting with Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and handed them documents in a restaurant in the city of Yangon. The two reporters were arrested shortly after in possession of the documents. The Myanmar authorities condemned their access to the material citing its ‘sensitivity to national security’.
After attempts to appeal the decision, both journalists were denied bail. At the time of their initial arrest in December 2017 the draft of their story had already been sent to Reuters. Despite their arrest, Reuters went ahead with the publication of the story, editing the story at the same time as working for their release.
On receiving the 7-year sentence and while being escorted to a police van, Wa Lone shouted,
“I have no fear. I have not done anything wrong. I believe in justice, democracy and freedom.”
Creating an additional emotion to the unjust detention, Wa Lone’s wife gave birth to their daughter three weeks ago. Upon hearing of their sentence, Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife cried and said,
“We know we did nothing wrong. I have no fear. I believe in justice, democracy and freedom.”
Journalists, human rights and pro-democracy activists protested on Saturday in Yangon city, Myanmar, in support of the reporters.
UN – Myanmar violations equal ethnic cleansing
The UN’s independent fact-finding mission to Myanmar recently announced that the gross human rights violations such as the massacre that the two journalists were investigating are,
“undoubtedly amount to the gravest crimes under international law” and a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”
In the last year since the Rakhine state military offensive, at least 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar and over 300 Rohingya villages have been destroyed. The UN estimates that up to 10,000 Rohingya people have been killed.
The criminalising of the work of these journalists is unwarranted and a number of human rights organisations and governments have called for their release. UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt responded to the news of their seven-year sentence by saying,
“Imprisoning journalists who write about inconvenient truths is an unconscionable blow to press freedom, and indeed everyone’s freedom. Will be raising the extremely serious case of the two Reuters journalists on my forthcoming visit to Burma (Myanmar).”
The International Observatory of Human Rights continues to support press freedom and calls for the immediate release of the two reporters.