Monday, January 25, 2021

Will Myanmar Release Journalists Who Covered Extrajudicial Killing of Rohingya Muslims?

Two Reuters journalists detained for their reporting on the Rohingya crisis will get a chance to be heard by a Myanmar court. Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were found guilty under a state secrets act after revealing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims during a cruel military crackdown.

The pair – who have been held behind bars for nearly a year since their arrest last December – was sentenced to seven years in jail, a verdict that drew widespread condemnation, including from US Vice President Mike Pence.

Lawyer Than Zaw Aung told AFP the date for the appeal hearing has been set for December 24 at the Yangon regional court.

“It is difficult to say how long the appeal can take,” he said, estimating that it would run for “at least two weeks”, but could stretch to months.

“We are hoping for their unconditional release.” The reporters will remain in prison during the appeal process.

The pair were investigating the massacre of 10 Rohingya men by security forces in Inn Din village, an atrocity that the military later admitted in a rare acknowledgement of wrongdoing.

And as the much-criticized trial was being held, one whistleblowing police officer told the court how a superior had ordered his men to set up a sting to entrap the reporters — testimony the judge chose to ignore.

Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has remained defiant in the face of criticism and insisted the case upheld the rule of law – further tarnishing her image as a democracy icon after her silence over the military’s actions against the Rohingya Muslims.

UN investigators have called for senior military generals to be prosecuted for genocide over their handling of the Rohingya crisis, in which more than 720,000 people were forcibly expelled to neighbouring Bangladesh’s refugee camps.

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