Reuters journalists working on Rohingya stories arrested in Myanmar

Two journalists working on stories about Rohingya in Myanmar for the news agency Reuters have been arrested and detai...

Posted: Dec 14, 2017 11:51 AM
Updated: Dec 14, 2017 11:51 AM

Two journalists working on stories about Rohingya in Myanmar for the news agency Reuters have been arrested and detained in the Southeast Asian country's largest city, Yangon.

The two reporters, named by the agency as Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were arrested under the Official Secrets Act, a colonial-era law which carries a maximum 14-year jail sentence.

Two journalists working for news agency have been detained, Myanmar government confirms

Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were working on stories about Myanmar's Rohingya minority, Reuters says

The two reporters were working on stories about the crackdown on members of the Rohingya minority, who have been the target of a sustained campaign of aggression by the Myanmar army.

As a result of this latest purge, which began in August, some 650,000 Rohingya, who are a stateless Muslim minority, have fled across the border to neighboring Bangladesh. In September the UN's human rights chief characterized the actions of the Myanmar military as a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing."

According to the US Embassy in Myanmar, the journalists were arrested Tuesday evening "after they were invited to meet with police officials."

The government acknowledged their arrest in a statement to the news agency, and also released a statement, along with a photo of the two men in handcuffs with their faces partially obscured on its Ministry of Information Facebook page.

The reporters "illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media," said the statement, according to Reuters. It added that they were held at a police station on the outskirts of Yangon. The two police officers who met the journalists were also arrested under the same statute, it said.

US Embassy: 'Deep concern'

The US Embassy in Yangon said Wednesday the US was "deeply concerned" over the "highly irregular" arrest of the two journalists.

"For a democracy to succeed, journalists need to be able to do their jobs freely. We urge the government to explain these arrests and allow immediate access to the journalists," a statement said.

Reuters President and Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler called for their immediate release. He said they were "reporting on events of global importance" and were taken into custody during the course of that work.

"We are outraged by this blatant attack on press freedom," Adler said in a statement.

Wa Lone has worked for Reuters since last year and has covered a range of stories, including the Rohingya crisis in Rakhine state, according to the news agency. Kyaw Soe Oo joined Reuters in September.

Harsh responses

Crackdown on dissent in Myanmar, also known as Burma, remains harsh, with an anti-defamation clause in the country's telecommunications law often used to quash opposition voices.

A report by Free Expression Myanmar says that defendants prosecuted under the section, known as 66(d), are invariably convicted, and sentences are always custodial.

Nobel Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's de facto leader, has come under intense criticism for her government's handling of the Rohingya crisis.

Myanmar's military says it has been targeting terrorists who carried out a series of deadly attacks on security forces. While the Nobel laureate leads the country in a power-sharing agreement with the military, she has little, if any, control over the country's armed forces.

In a speech in September, Suu Kyi said she is aware of the "world's attention" focused on Myanmar, but said her government "does not fear international scrutiny."

"If you are interested in joining us in our endeavors, please let us know," she added. "We can arrange for you to visit these areas and to ask (those who have stayed) why they have not fled, why they have chosen to remain in their villages."

Access to Rakhine State has been heavily restricted to media, human rights groups, and diplomats.

Last month Suu Kyi was stripped of Oxford's -- the city where she received her degree -- highest honor, the Freedom of the City of Oxford, an honor bestowed on her in 1997. On Wednesday, councilors in Dublin followed suit, voting to rescind the city's equivalent, the Freedom of Dublin, by a vote of 59-2, according to Irish state media RTE.

5 dubious claims Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi made in her speech

Worldwide attacks on the press

The arrests come as a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) alleges that the number of journalists imprisoned around the world has reached 262, a new record.

The most common reasons journalists are put behind bars around the world include "anti-state charges" and "broad and vague terror laws," according to the CPJ report.

Turkey has imprisoned the highest number of reporters at 73. China is second with 41.

The report had harsh words for US President Donald Trump, whose attacks on the press have led to a climate of distrust for the media.

"President Donald Trump's nationalistic rhetoric, fixation on Islamic extremism, and insistence on labeling critical media 'fake news' serves to reinforce the framework of accusations and legal charges that allow [some foreign] leaders to preside over the jailing of journalists," the report states.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 255125

Reported Deaths: 5574
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17197175
Hinds16280322
Harrison13502193
Rankin10749211
Jackson10407183
Lee8819141
Madison8262162
Jones6375110
Forrest5992119
Lauderdale5873180
Lowndes5381116
Lafayette496692
Lamar487565
Washington4800123
Bolivar3978108
Oktibbeha393880
Panola370779
Pontotoc365353
Monroe3543105
Warren353498
Union344760
Marshall342665
Neshoba3383152
Pearl River329799
Leflore3004105
Lincoln297685
Sunflower284969
Hancock273459
Tate272462
Alcorn264053
Pike263577
Itawamba262959
Scott246645
Yazoo245955
Prentiss245652
Copiah241949
Tippah241750
Simpson235767
Coahoma233754
Leake231164
Grenada218470
Covington213071
Marion212072
Adams205870
Wayne201331
Winston200564
George199338
Attala193759
Newton192842
Tishomingo186359
Chickasaw183944
Jasper170835
Holmes168767
Clay159433
Stone143621
Tallahatchie141034
Clarke138960
Calhoun136121
Smith120823
Yalobusha117034
Walthall112336
Noxubee110522
Greene110229
Montgomery109634
Carroll104521
Lawrence102617
Perry102231
Amite98025
Webster92424
Tunica86721
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis84825
Humphreys83024
Benton81823
Kemper77220
Quitman6918
Franklin66615
Choctaw60513
Wilkinson58425
Jefferson54319
Sharkey43017
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 424028

Reported Deaths: 6121
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62258921
Mobile30381549
Madison27160186
Tuscaloosa20779267
Montgomery19049305
Shelby18572114
Baldwin16346182
Lee12515101
Morgan12260113
Etowah11757168
Calhoun11161200
Marshall10199107
Houston8630148
Cullman8036105
Limestone802874
Elmore7849101
DeKalb768897
Lauderdale760083
St. Clair7555120
Talladega6180108
Walker5903174
Jackson581341
Colbert533573
Blount530883
Autauga519855
Coffee443956
Dale398581
Franklin367548
Chilton337665
Russell331710
Covington327768
Escambia319342
Dallas303396
Chambers284269
Clarke282133
Tallapoosa2617107
Pike249429
Marion246250
Lawrence244247
Winston227335
Bibb216247
Geneva202535
Marengo199729
Pickens197031
Hale176442
Barbour173036
Butler170258
Fayette169026
Cherokee160530
Henry154421
Monroe145617
Randolph140735
Washington137726
Clay126745
Crenshaw119544
Lamar118219
Cleburne117723
Macon115035
Lowndes110735
Wilcox103121
Bullock99128
Perry97719
Conecuh94420
Sumter89126
Greene76123
Coosa60515
Choctaw51524
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Mostly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 50°
Columbus
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 48°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 44°
Starkville
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 46°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather