The Reuters reporters who were accused of possessing state secret papers, were sentenced for 7 years jail with hars labor for breaching Myanmar’s state secrets law during their reporting of Rohingya massacre in a village of norther Arakan state, were jailed for seven years with hard lalabor Monday.
The local reuters jornalists, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, denied the charges, insisting they were set up while doing their professional work to expose the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in Inn Din, a Rohingya dominated village in Arakan state in September last year. But Judge Ye Lwin was unmoved by their testimony saying the packed Yangon Court, “It is found that the culprits intended to harm the interests of the state. And so they have been found guilty under the state secrets act”.The case of has drawn outrage as an attack on media freedom.
The accused reporters have been held in Yangon’s Insein prison since their arrest last December, accusing them to violate the Official Secrets Act, a draconian British colonial-era law.
The international community considered the case and its verdict as an attempt to muzzle reporting on massive crackdown by Burmese security forces on the Rohingya minority in Arakan state.Concerned by what was widely seen as a draconian attack by Burmese authorities on the free press, the United Nations, European Union, rights groups and countries including the US, Australia and Canada called for the pair’s acquittal. On Sunday, dozens of journalists and activists marched in Yangon in support of the men.
The verdict came during a time of intense international scrutiny on Burma authorities following a damning UN report about the military’s treatment of the innocent Rohingya, which it said a genocidal intent and ethnic cleansing. The Army-led crackdown on innocent Rohingya civilians in the name of called clearance operations carryied widespread accounts of atrocities — rape, murder and that drove more than 700,000 Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh where the refugees have been languishing a life of captivity and misery