World Association of News Publishers

World’s Press Condemns Sentencing of Myanmar Journalists, Calls for Immediate Release

World’s Press Condemns Sentencing of Myanmar Journalists, Calls for Immediate Release

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The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the World Editors Forum have condemned the sentencing of journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in Myanmar, and call on the authorities to urgently review the decision and release the men.

The two Reuters journalists, who have been in detention since December 2017, were found guilty on Sunday of having breached Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act. The pair have been sentenced to seven years in prison.

“We reject the ruling by the courts in Yangon and call for an immediate review of the verdict and the release of our colleagues,” said a statement from WAN-IFRA. “The criminalisation of the profession of journalism is a sure sign that democracy in Myanmar has a long way to go before the country can claim to be making the kind of progress towards a free press that we had hoped it would by now.”

The journalists maintain that they were framed by a police sting operation and targeted for their reporting into a massacre of Rohingya Muslims in Inn Din, a village in the north of Rakhine state, in which soldiers and Buddhist villagers were implicated in the deaths of 10 people.

Police officers passed documents to the journalists at a dinner to which they had been invited in December 2017. Shortly after they were arrested and accused of obtaining secret state material.

“This decision, and the on-going ordeal faced by Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, is a stain on Myanmar’s democratic aspirations and further proof of its leaders’ antipathy towards rights-based, transparent governance,” continued the statement from WAN-IFRA.

“Journalism is not a crime; the sooner Myanmar’s authorities, military and civilian, realise this, the better - for the profession, the future of a free media, and a population who urgently require solid investigative journalism of the kind Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were conducting.”


Andrew Heslop's picture

Andrew Heslop


2018-09-03 12:53

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...