YANGON: Release wrongfully arrested journalists immediately: Fortify Rights


FORTIFY Rights, a Thai-based non-governmental organisation, has issued a press statement criticising the Myanmar government’s arrest of two Reuters journalists in “mounting crackdown on media”.

This is the latest criticism from media organisations, human rights groups and the international community against the government’s detention of the two reporters and use of the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

The two journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were detained late on Tuesday night in Yangon after being driven to meet two police officers. The authorities said the two were in possession of sensitive documents, and that they will be charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum prison term of 14 years.

Wa Lone has been one of the Reuters team reporting on the Rakhine crisis since August this year. He used to work for The Myanmar Times, specialising in politics and general news. Kyaw Soe Oo is from Rakhine, and joined the Reuters team in Yangon in September.

Nay Pyi Taw should immediately and unconditionally release the two Reuters journalists arrested on December 12, Fortify Rights said yesterday.

“Myanmar authorities are once again hounding journalists in an effort to silence the profession,” said Matthew Smith, CEO of Fortify Rights.

“The authorities should immediately disclose the whereabouts and well-being of the two journalists.

“National and international journalists are being squeezed for doing their jobs.

“The environment for media right now is as hostile as it’s been for years, and if adequate pressure doesn’t mount on the civilian and military leadership, we can expect it to worsen,” he added.

Prior to the arrest, the journalists reportedly attended a dinner with police officials near the Police Battalion 8 compound located on the outskirts of Yangon.

On December 14, a state-run newspaper reported that the journalists obtained documents “by deception from the two policemen, who came back from Rakhine State after serving security duties in Maungdaw and Buthidaung.”

Meanwhile, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said yesterday that the UK has expressed grave concerns to Nay Pyi Taw over the arrest, while European Parliament President Antonio Tajani urged the government to release the journalists.

Myanmar Times
 15 DEC 2017


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