Myanmar court has given a shocking verdict and has sentenced two journalists to 7 years in prison as it held them guilty for violating a law on state secrets. The reporters were detained while they were covering the massacre on Rohingya. The verdict has triggered an international shock and outcry in support of the journalists.
British and US ambassadors were also present while the sentence was handed over to Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and expressed their condemnation for the same. They called it as a blow to democracy in Myanmar. Scot Marciel, US ambassador to Myanmar said, he felt saddened for the families of both the journalists and also for Myanmar as the verdict has shaken the confidence of people in the justice system of the country.
Likewise, Dan Chugg, the British ambassador to Myanmar also said on behalf of both UK and European Union, that they are disappointed by the verdict which has cast a dark shadow on both freedom of expression and rule of law.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had pleaded not guilty to breaching the Official Secrets Act of colonial era and stated that they have been framed by the police. Both were arrested in December 12, 2017 while they were covering killing of 10 Rohingya by soldiers at Inn Din, in the state of Rakhine. Military also acknowledged the killing of Rohingya men and boys after the incident.
The case also drew worldwide attention as the press freedom is completely crushed under the rule of Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.
EU ambassador to Myanmar, Kristian Schmidt stated in a Twitter post, that the sentences should be reviewed and the journalists should be released unconditionally. Even UN Resident in Myanmar, Knut Ostby urged the government for the release of the journalists.
The Editor-in-Chief of Reuters, Stephen J Adler, has called the verdict “a major step backward in the Myanmar’s transition to democracy, cannot be squared with the rule of law or freedom of speech, and must be corrected by the Myanmar government as a matter of urgency”. He added that “the charges as completely false, and designed to silence their reporting and intimidate the press”.