Two Reuters journalists arrested in Myanmar: government spokesman

Gladys Abbott
Декабря 14, 2017

The U.S. Embassy in Yangon said in a statement that it is "deeply concerned by the highly irregular arrests of two Reuters reporters after they were invited to meet with police officials in Yangon last night". "We urge the government to explain these arrests and allow immediate access to the journalists", the embassy in Naypyidaw said in a statement.

The Reuters president and editor-in-chief, Stephen Adler, said: "We are outraged by this blatant attack on press freedom".

The information ministry said the pair were accused of intending "to send important security documents regarding security forces in Rakhine state to foreign agencies abroad".

The northern part of the Rakhine state is the focal point of Myanmar's military campaign that has pushed more than 625,000 minority Rohingya Muslims into neighboring Bangladesh. According to a Reuters news story, a government spokesman acknowledged the two had been arrested but did not say why or provide details.

The ministry said charges have also bee filed against two Yangon police officers who previously worked in Rakhine State and allegedly transferred the secret documents to the reporters. Kyaw Soe Oo began working for Reuters in September.

"The arrest and incommunicado detention of Wa Lone and Moe Aung is a disturbing example of authorities' clear desire to clamp down on news coverage of the crisis in Rakhine State, and their willingness to use restrictive colonial-era laws to do so", said Karin Karlekar, Director of Free Expression at Risk programs at PEN America.

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"Myanmar media's freedom will definitely deteriorate if these reporters are punished", Myint Kyaw said.

Rights groups and some Rohingya have accused government soldiers of committing atrocities against them, including summary executions, rape, torture, and arson. A report by Free Expression Myanmar on Monday said every case that had made it to court so far had ended with a guilty verdict and a prison sentence.

After their disappearance Tuesday evening, the journalists' colleagues in Rangoon have since filed a missing persons report, visited three police station and inquired with several government officials about what may have happened to the two reporters.

Other journalists in Burma have been arrested in recent months.

Reported by Kyaw Soe Lin and Thinn Thiri for RFA's Myanmar Service. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

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