Even as local and international criticism of the imprisonment of two Reuters reporters are gaining momentum, the Myanmar National Human Rights Commission (MNHRC) has urged the National League for Democracy (NLD)-led government to reconsider the matter.
Notably, the two Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced to seven years in jail on Monday for breaching the Official Secrets Act over their coverage of the conflict in Rakhine State of the country.
Meanwhile, the wives of the two jailed reporters have also urged the MNHRC to take serious action against the government move and free their husbands, according to a report by The Irrawaddy.
The reporters were accused of possessing ‘top secret’ documents at the time of their arrest last December in Yangon, including the travel itinerary for Vice President U Myint Swe’s trip to trouble-torn northern Rakhine; the phone number of self-styled brigadier-general Nyo Tun Aung of the Arakan Army; a map related to Pope Francis’ visit to Myanmar; and northern Rakhine security clearance operations reports.
Taking into consideration all of the above matters, the judge concluded that the reporters had violated the Official Secrets Act’s Section 3 (1) (c) and sentenced them to seven years’ imprisonment.
The two Reuters reporters were investigating the massacre of 10 Rohingya men in Rakhine State’s Inn Din village by a group of local villagers, police and Army troops last December.
The two wives of the jailed journalists in an interaction with the media said that they were extremely ‘disappointed’ with the judgment because the plaintiff witnesses’ testimony, including that given by police, appeared to contain ‘discrepancies and falsehoods’.
Meanwhile, US Vice President Mike Pence has called on Myanmar’s government to reverse the court ruling sentencing the two journalists to seven years of imprisonment.
US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also said on Tuesday that the United States would become ‘more vocal’ about the situation of the two journalists.