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Rohingya Vision Denounces Burma’s Jail Sentence on Reuters Journalists, Choking Press Freedom

Rohingya Vision TV, a voice of the most persecuted people on earth denounces the long-term jail sentence for two Reuters journalists for the crimes of investigating the truth. This sentence has sealed the little gaps that existed in Burma’s (Myanmar) press freedom earlier on Monday.

A Burmese court sentenced two Reuters journalists with breaching the British Colonial era Secrets Acts and were sentenced to seven years imprisonment for an independent investigation of a massacre of ten Rohingya Muslims in Arakan (Rakhine) State.

Read more on the mass graves exposed by REUTERS:

How Myanmar forces burned, looted and killed in a remote village

Both Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, are Reuters journalists whom were detained on 12 December 2017 after their completing an investigation on the mass killing of Rohingya in Andang (Inn Dinn) village in Burma’s northern Arakan state.

After the hearing outside the court, Kaw Soe Oo said “We know what we did. We know we did nothing wrong,” he said. “I have no fear. I believe in justice, democracy and freedom.”

And the journalists further added by saying they will continue their fight for press freedom.

“This is disappointing … to democracy, rule of law and press freedom,” said Than Zaw Aung, a lawyer for the reporters.

Read on their plotted arrest:

Myanmar policeman who arrested Reuters reporters tells court he burned his notes

“Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the press everywhere,” said the Reuters agency’s editor-in-chief Stephen J Adler on the day they were sentenced with imprisonment.

Rohingya activist and Journalist M. S. Anwar explained, “The two Reuters journalists were arrested and sentenced to 7 years in prison (under old British Colonial era Secrets Acts) simply because they dared write the truth about the Myanmar military’s massacres of innocent Rohingya villagers. It looks like the truth about Myanmar’s Genocide of Rohingyas are official secrets and hence, reporting them is a crime in the eyes of the country’s authorities”.

Reuters journalists Wa Lone, 32, (right) and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, (Left) departs Insein court after their verdict announcement in Yangon, Burma, September 3, 2018. Image: REUTERS

In our in-depth conversation, he said, “Even the Police Chief, Captain Moe Yan Naing, who was later dismissed from the Service and handed a one-year imprisonment term for admitting the truth, said in Court that they handed over the classified documents to the journalists and trapped them. In this way, they want to silence all the media and the journalists from writing and reporting the truth”.

Following Burma’s cowardly reaction on media freedom, CEO of Rohingya Vision TV Muhammed Noor stated “This is a slap by Aung Sang Suu Kyi’s government not only to freedom of media but also to justice and human rights”.

Along with Rohingya Vision TV, earlier the Al Jazeera Media Network has also condemned the prison sentences and called for their immediate release.

Giles Trendle, Managing Director at Al Jazeera English, described the Burma court’s ruling as, “A shameful attack on media freedom”.

“We stand by our Reuters journalist colleagues … and we call for the immediate and unconditional release,” Trendle added.

Rohingya Vision’s News Editor Sultana connected this act to the ongoing genocide and says “Again Burma chokes press freedom, and it is an evidence of how Burma is responsible for its genocidal crimes”.

Similar reactions were also heard from the Burmese public and dozens of journalists with pro-democracy activists were seen marching on the roads of Yangoon on 1st September in a huge protest, demanding their release and media freedom in Burma.

Following this, government spokesman Zaw Htay did not respond to requests from any media for comment about the verdict.

Public march to show solidarity for jailed Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo two days before a local court is due to deliver verdict against them on 1st Sept 2018. Image: Reuters

It also forced international human right groups and countries to respond and comment.

“It’s thanks to the bravery of journalists like Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo that the military’s atrocities have been exposed,” said Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Director of Crisis Response.

Dan Chugg, the UK’s ambassador to Burma, said the verdicts “dealt a hammer blow for the rule of law”.

“Freedom of expression and the are fundamental in a democracy, and this case has passed a long shadow over both today,” he added. “The judge has appeared to have ignored evidence and to have ignored Myanmar law.”

UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Knut Ostby, said: “The United Nations has consistently called for the release of the Reuters journalists and urged the authorities to respect their right to pursue freedom of expression and information”.

Earlier US Ambassador Scot Marciel, who attended the hearing, suggested the verdicts would “decrease the confidence the people of Myanmar have in their justice system”.

Burmese Activist and press freedom fighters along with public seen on the roads of Yangon, Burma, marching for Reuters Journalists release and media freedom on 1st Sept 2018. Image: Frotier 

This triggered an international outrage in media and journalism, the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and press freedom campaigners around the world and along with the public, demanding their immediate release.

In Rohingya Vision’s concluding discussion with Rohingya Journalist M. S. Anwar, he emphasized the issue by saying “The world needs to understand that Myanmar is ruled by the same military class that used to rule the country until a few years ago. It’s the same military dictatorship in the facade of democracy. And that democracy facade is Aung San Suu Kyi. And she is happy to be the facade and shield for the Myanmar military tyrants”.

Following this entire team of Rohingya Vision TV, Rohingya journalists, activists, organizations and individuals join their hand in solidarity with international journalists and press worldwide and demand their immediate releases, to keep the ray of hope alive in press freedom in a so-called democratic country like Burma.

Top: Authenticated photo taken Sept 1, 2017, shows the 10 Rohingya men, hands bound, just before they were taken away and murdered. Bottom: Relatives of the dead men, arranged directly below the man in the family who was killed. Image: Reuters

To send reports and feedback, please email editor@rvisiontv.com

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