After 500 days in Myanmar prison for speaking truth to power, the two Reuters journalists walk free
Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were released by the Myanmar government on Tuesday after 500 days in detention.
- They were convicted of breaking the country’s Official Secrets Act and were sentenced last September to seven years in jail for receiving documents from a police officer.
- Two years ago, the country’s military is believed to have killed 10 Rohingya men in the village of Inn Dinn, forcing over 720,000 Rohingya people to flee to Bangladesh.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2019 for international reporting ,were convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act and were sentenced last September for allegedly receiving documents from a police officer. They had been arrested outside a restaurant in Yangon on 12 Dec 2017.
Myanmar also released thousands of other prisoners including the two journalists on Tuesday as part of mass amnesties that take place annually around Myanmar's new year, which began on 17 April. Traditionally, the Myanmar authorities pardon many across the country during their new year.
During their detention for more than a year, their reporting was recognised with several international awards besides the Pulitzer Prize. They were also named “Person of the Year” by Time Magazine.
There was also massive diplomatic effort and pressure from human rights activists calling for their release. In April, the two, in fact, lost their last chance after the Supreme Court rejected their final appeal but they had hoped for a presidential pardon.
Two years ago, the military killed 10 Rohingya men in the village of Inn Dinn, forcing over 720,000 Rohingya people to escape the border and live in refugee camps in Bangladesh. The United Nations called the incident as one of the ‘ gravest crimes under international law,’ according to media reports.
“The UN in Myanmar considers the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo a step toward improving the freedom of the press and a sign of government’s commitment to Myanmar’s transition to democracy,” said United Nations in Myanmar.