WEATHER AUTHORITY : Heat Advisory - Flood Advisory View Alerts

Jailed Reuters journalists: Families face life with no father

Eleven-week-old Thet Htar Angel still hasn't met her father.The baby girl from Myanmar is still too y...

Posted: Nov 21, 2018 12:19 PM
Updated: Nov 21, 2018 12:19 PM

Eleven-week-old Thet Htar Angel still hasn't met her father.

The baby girl from Myanmar is still too young to visit the prison where her father, Reuters journalist Wa Lone, is serving a seven-year sentence for exposing a massacre by the country's military.

Amnesty and pardons

Asia

Children

Continents and regions

Corrections system

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal law

Demographic groups

Families and children

Family members and relatives

Infants and toddlers

Law and legal system

Myanmar

Population and demographics

Prisons and jails

Society

Southeast Asia

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Companies

Freedom of press

Human rights

International relations and national security

Journalism and news media

Media industry

Thomson Reuters Corp

Recently, the baby was released from hospital after spending two days being treated for breathing problems.

"When I see the doctor about our daughter, I see others with their husbands," her mother, Wa Lone's wife, Pan Ei Mon, tells CNN. "But for me, I have to suffer alone. I was supposed to go through all these things together with him."

Reuters journalist 32-year-old Wa Lone and his 28-year-old colleague Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in Yangon last December and charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act, a rarely-used colonial-era law in Myanmar.

Their reporting for Reuters exposed a massacre at the village of Inn Din in northern Rakhine State in September 2017, where 10 men from the Rohingya ethnic minority were murdered and thrown in a mass grave. Myanmar's military confirmed the deaths and the country's state media has since reported that seven soldiers have been jailed for the killings.

The massacre took place at the height of a "clearance operation" by Myanmar's military, known as the Tatmadaw, after Rohingya militants attacked security forces last August.

Earlier this month, both men were sentenced to seven years in jail.

"I feel like in this moment, I'm struggling," Pan Ei Mon says. "I never expected this in my life, because I was hoping that he was going to be released."

Pan Ei Mon passionately defends her husband, saying he is innocent and that she is proud of him for "always trying to be a good journalist." She also keeps trying to talk to their baby about her father.

"I want my daughter to know how much her father loves her," Pan Ei Mon said. "When I was coaxing her to sleep, she was looking at me, and she was holding my fingers, which are nice moments for me. But I want my husband to feel those nice moments too."

She adds that Wa Lone worries about his daughter's health. "He really wants to see his daughter."

Setting him free

The baby doesn't know her father. But Kyaw Soe Oo's three-year-old daughter, Moe Thin Wai Zan, was very close to her father and is increasingly aware of what has happened.

"She is now old enough to understand, as she was going to every trial," her 23-year-old mother Chit Su Win tells CNN.

"She asks, 'Why doesn't father live with us? Doesn't he love us?,'" she says. "Then I have to explain to her, 'your father is working in the prison as a teacher...he's not leaving us.' I lied to her that he is staff."

Moe Thin Wai Zan still remembers happier times, when her dad would take her on trips to the beach, on motorbike rides around the city, or to a local barbecue restaurant. Now, they can only talk to each other through bars.

And each time, she tries to set her father free.

"Whenever she sees her father handcuffed, she tries to use her fingers as a key to unlock the handcuffs," Chit Su Win says, in tears.

Chit Su Win and her daughter Moe Thin Wai Zan have had to move from their home in Sittwe -- the Rakhine State capital -- to Myanmar's main city Yangon so they can visit Kyaw Soe Oo every day.

Both families are being supported by Reuters, as they all try to work towards the pair's release. An appeal against the verdict and sentences has to be lodged within two months of the September 3 verdict. Separately, they are also hoping that the government will grant a presidential pardon.

Currently, the two men are held in Yangon's notorious Insein Prison -- historically a place synonymous with torture and inhumane conditions -- although conditions have improved in recent years.

The most famous former inmate of the jail is Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's de-facto leader. In September, she defended the conviction of the two journalists at the World Economic Forum in Vietnam's capital Hanoi.

"They were not jailed because they were journalists," Aung San Suu Kyi said. "They were jailed because the court, because sentence has been passed on them because the court has decided that they have broken the Official Secrets Act."

International human rights lawyer Amal Clooney is offering assistance to the journalists' legal team. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged the Myanmar government to pardon and release the pair.

"I hope that the government will be able to provide a pardon to release them as quickly as possible," Guterres said in September.

Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who has joined the legal team for the journalists, has called the trial and verdict a "farce" and called on Aung San Suu Ski to issue a pardon.

"Our message to her now is: well, these were your own principles, you've actually slept in the prison where these journalists now sleep," Clooney said. "You have the power to get them out and set your country back on course to becoming a real democracy and to respecting the rule of law."

Staying positive

The wives of the jailed journalists had never met before their husbands' arrests, but they have now become friends. They say they focus on keeping up their spirits and staying positive.

"I always try not to let myself cry in front of (Wa Lone)," Pan Ei Mon says. "He gets strength from seeing me being strong."

Chit Su Win says: "I'm trying to smile all the time. When he's front of me, (Kyaw Soe Oo) does the same, pretending he's OK."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 333180

Reported Deaths: 7502
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22901279
Hinds22780438
Harrison19569326
Rankin14851287
Jackson14342251
Madison10692227
Lee10437179
Jones8746169
Forrest8210157
Lauderdale7561243
Lowndes6790150
Lamar669688
Lafayette6459124
Washington5516139
Pearl River4915149
Bolivar4909134
Oktibbeha478498
Panola4723112
Marshall4654106
Warren4640127
Pontotoc440473
Monroe4255137
Union425379
Neshoba4182180
Lincoln4098115
Hancock405088
Leflore3565125
Pike3530112
Tate349588
Alcorn343974
Sunflower343093
Adams333387
Scott331775
Yazoo331173
Simpson314890
Copiah313867
Itawamba310180
Coahoma308785
Tippah298868
Prentiss292963
Covington282483
Marion279580
Leake278475
Wayne270743
Grenada266388
George261651
Newton256664
Tishomingo236869
Winston235584
Jasper226148
Attala220873
Chickasaw216360
Stone210237
Holmes195674
Clay192254
Clarke182080
Tallahatchie181742
Calhoun177532
Smith175935
Yalobusha169440
Walthall141548
Lawrence137726
Greene135734
Amite132843
Noxubee131635
Perry131038
Montgomery130944
Carroll124531
Webster117532
Jefferson Davis113334
Tunica111127
Benton104625
Claiborne104331
Kemper100729
Humphreys99133
Franklin85923
Quitman83519
Choctaw81319
Wilkinson74632
Jefferson69728
Sharkey51518
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 570667

Reported Deaths: 11483
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson834821584
Mobile45819855
Madison36785532
Tuscaloosa26757465
Shelby26612255
Montgomery25739624
Baldwin23810325
Lee16801181
Calhoun15130332
Morgan14941289
Etowah14662368
Marshall12806235
Houston11515292
Elmore10654217
St. Clair10521251
Limestone10472158
Cullman10257204
Lauderdale9991253
DeKalb9298191
Talladega8739187
Walker7594286
Autauga7419113
Jackson7269117
Blount7184139
Colbert6583142
Coffee6045131
Dale5326117
Russell465842
Chilton4645117
Covington4579125
Franklin444381
Tallapoosa4379157
Escambia420082
Chambers3852125
Dallas3688163
Clarke364462
Marion3380106
Pike324879
Lawrence3192101
Winston291072
Bibb280165
Geneva271583
Marengo258567
Barbour243461
Pickens239162
Butler236172
Hale231878
Fayette224564
Henry205145
Randolph194944
Cherokee193948
Monroe192141
Washington177139
Macon167552
Crenshaw164458
Clay162559
Cleburne159145
Lamar149538
Lowndes144354
Wilcox129231
Bullock125642
Conecuh118130
Coosa116029
Perry109928
Sumter108032
Greene97836
Choctaw63825
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
80° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 77°
Feels Like: 85°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 76°
Feels Like: 75°
Oxford
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 75°
Feels Like: 82°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 75°
Feels Like: 75°
Tuesday more very hot and humid conditions will be the rule across our area. Some isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms will be possible at times. A few heavy and hefty thunderstorms cannot be ruled out of the question at times.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather