Responding to the decision by a Myanmar court to press forward with the criminal case against Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific said:
“This appalling but wholly unsurprising decision is entirely in keeping with Myanmar’s continued regression on freedom of expression and human rights in general.
“The case against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo is clearly politically-motivated and completely baseless. They are languishing behind bars simply because of their peaceful journalism and investigating the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people by Myanmar’s own security forces in Rakhine State.
“The decision to press forward with this case sends a clear message to journalists operating in the country that certain topics remain off-limits, with dire consequences for those who dare address them, however peacefully. There has been an alarming erosion in press freedom in Myanmar where media workers continue to face threats, intimidation and even jail time simply for doing their jobs. This has to change. Press freedom, and freedom of expression in general, has to be protected and that must begin with the immediate and unconditional release of both men.”
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in Yangon, Myanmar’s main city on 12 December 2017. The two journalists had been investigating the recent military operations in Rakhine State at the time of their arrest. They were held incommunicado for two weeks. The pair are being investigated for breaching Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.