Framed Journalists Released in Myanmar - JustAct

In February we requested that you write letters seeking the release from prison of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar who had been sentenced to seven years in prison for reporting on a massacre of the Rohingya ethnic group.

The journalists, Wa Lone (aged 32) and Kyaw Soe Oo (aged 28) were framed by police for accepting confidential documents and convicted under the Official Secrets Act. In good news, the journalists were released from prison on 7 May 2019 through a Presidential amnesty, having spent more than 500 days in prison. "I've been so happy that I couldn't even eat my breakfast," said Kyaw Soe Oo's mother, Shin Htwee. "I can't ask my son to stop workingas a journalist because he loves this job. So whatever happens, I will support him to carry on," she told BBC.

The two journalists had lost their appeal to the Myanmar Supreme Court on 23 April 2019. The court gave no reason for dismissing their appeal. In early April the two journalists shared the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting. On 2 May, the two journalists were awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize as part of the celebration of World Press Freedom Day (3 May) which is taking place in Ethiopia this year. The Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the defence or promotion of press freedom, especially in the face of danger. It is named after Guillermo Cano Isaza, the Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogotá, Colombia, on 17 December 1986.

Killings of Rohingya by the Myanmar military have continued. In early April the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern publicly that dozens of Rohingya may have been killed in an attack by a Myanmar military helicopter in Rakine state. According to villagers in Buthidaung township, army helicopters fired on Rohingya labourers while they were collecting bamboo. The army confirmed the attack, but claimed the death toll was six. Such attacks continue to force Rohingya to flee Myanmar.

Thank you to everyone who wrote letters seeking the release of the two journalists.