While the world marks World Press Freedom Day today, the plight of two reporters who have been detained in Myanmar for their investigation into military crimes against the Rohingya is just one example of the global attack on free expression that endures throughout the year, said Amnesty International USA on the occasion of the worldwide observance.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in December and are being investigated for breaching Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. Their arrest under this law appears to be an effort to stifle free expression and discourage journalists from reporting independently.
“Journalists are essential actors in speaking truth to power and shining a light on the deeds and actions of governments who might otherwise seek to operate in secrecy,” said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
“Journalists like Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo play a critical role in obtaining and sharing the information that makes it possible to ensure accountability for human rights violations. Their plight is sadly not isolated, as oppressive governments have recently cracked down on reporters in countries including Turkey, Hungary, and Egypt. Even here in the United States, the president and other members of the government attempt to vilify reporters on a daily basis for reporting stories they find inconvenient. We must continue to be ever vigilant against attempts both at home and abroad to keep reporters from doing their jobs.”