Freedom of the press essential to democracy | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 06, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, September 06, 2018

Freedom of the press essential to democracy

Says US VP, calls for release of Reuters journos

 

Two journos should be commended for their work

exposing human rights violations: Pence

 

US Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday called on Myanmar's government to reverse a court ruling that imprisoned two Reuters journalists for seven years and to release them immediately.

The journalists were found guilty on Monday on official secrets charges in a landmark case seen as a test of progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which was ruled by a military junta until 2011.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were investigating the killing by security forces of Rohingya villagers at the time of their arrest last December, and had pleaded not guilty.

"Wa Lone & Kyaw Soe Oo shd be commended—not imprisoned—for their work exposing human rights violations & mass killings. Freedom of religion & freedom of the press are essential to a strong democracy," Pence wrote on Twitter.

Pence is the most senior US official to add his voice to an international outcry against the verdict by a Myanmar judge, who said the two had breached the colonial-era Official Secrets Act when they collected and obtained confidential documents.

In Yangon earlier on Tuesday, the wives of two journalists insisted that the men were innocent and called for them to be reunited with their families.

"Deeply troubled by the Burmese court ruling sentencing 2 @Reuters journalists to 7 years in jail for doing their job reporting on the atrocities being committed on the Rohingya people," Pence wrote in another tweet.

US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that the United States would become more vocal about the two journalists' situation.

Members of the pro-democracy Civic Party demonstrate against Myanmar's sentencing of two Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo to seven years in jail, outside the Myanmar consulate in Hong Kong, China, yesterday. Photo: Reuters

Speaking at a news conference in New York marking the US assumption of the rotating chairmanship of the Security Council for September, Haley said the reporters were "in prison for telling the truth."

Mark Green, administrator for the US Agency for International Development, said "these convictions are an enormous setback for democracy and the rule of law in Burma."

The verdict came amid mounting pressure on the government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi over a security crackdown sparked by attacks by Rohingya Muslim insurgents on security forces in Rakhine State in west Myanmar in August 2017.

Stay updated on the go with The Daily Star Android & iOS News App. Click here to download it for your device.

Grameenphone and Robi:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2222

Banglalink:
Type START <space> BR and send SMS it to 2225

Leave your comments

Top News

Top News

Top