In a shocking development, two Reuters journalists who covered the Rohingya refugee crisis were sentenced to seven years in prison. Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28 were convicted of possessing secret official documents in violation of the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.
The duo was arrested in October 2017 when they were investigating an extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in a Rakhine state. They have been living in Yangon’s Insein prison since then. The conviction has sparked a global outrage with many terming it an attack on press freedom.
Responding to the arrest Reuters issued a statement, “Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the press everywhere.”
“This is a major step backward in Myanmar’s transition to democracy, cannot be squared with the rule of law or freedom of speech, and must be corrected by the Myanmar government as a matter of urgency,” Stephen J Adler, Editor-in-chief said.
The verdict puts a spotlight on Myanmar government’s brutal crackdown and ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas by the state’s security forces since August 2017 due to which 7 lakh Rohingyas fled the country.