A court in Myanmar has rejected an appeal by two Reuters reporters jailed for breaking a state secrets act. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced to seven years in September in a case condemned around the world. They exposed the summary execution of 10 Muslim Rohingyas by the security forces during the military’s anti-Rohingya operation in 2017. Both were arrested carrying official documents handed to them by police officers. They maintain their innocence, saying the authorities set them up.
The first official day of the planned repatriation of thousands of Rohingyas to Myanmar was a failure as no one agreed to return. Despite a joint deal between Bangladesh and Myanmar, the UN says people should not be forced to return. The repatriation plan was met by mass protests in Rohingya refugee camps.
Amnesty International has withdrawn the Ambassador of Conscience award from Myanmar’s civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi after her ‘shameful betrayal’ to values and ‘apparent indifference’ to the atrocities committed against the Rohingya. UN investigators accused the Myanmar military of ‘genocidal intent,’ claims which Suu Kyi’s administration rejected. The Myanmar government has not commented.
China voted against the UN creation of a body to prepare human rights abuse evidence against Myanmar, saying the Rohingya issue should not be ‘internationalized.’ Evidence will be gathered by the UN for ‘fair and independent criminal proceedings.’ Canada voted to strip Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi of her honorary Canadian citizenship due to the Rohingya crisis.
The International Criminal Court opened a preliminary investigation into Myanmar’s alleged crimes against Rohingya Muslims. The probe comes after Myanmar refused to provide military figures for UN investigation last month. The ICC move could lead to a full investigation into the Myanmar military crackdown which has displaced over 700,000 and killed thousands.
Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi spoke at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Vietnam on Thursday and admitted the Rohingya Muslim displacement situation ‘could have been handled better.’ Suu Kyi also defended the internationally condemned arrests of two Reuters journalists, saying their jailing had ‘nothing to do with freedom of expression at all.’
Two Reuters journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison by a Myanmar court for breaking the Official Secrets Act while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims, which the UN calls ‘ethnic cleansing.’. The journalists, Myanmar nationals, pleaded not guilty when charged in July. The journalists believe their arrests were a ‘preplanned and staged’ effort.
A dam burst in central Myanmar on Wednesday, flooding homes and displacing up to 50,000 people. Authorities urged residents to evacuate in case of worsening floods. Rescuers are working as authorities fear thousands may be trapped in their homes. Officials are examining a bridge connecting two major cities that was damaged by the floodwaters.
The UN released a report saying that top officials from Myanmar must be investigated for genocide in Rakhine state and other crimes against humanity. The report is the UN’s strongest condemnation for the violence against Rohingya Muslims. UN investigators criticized Facebook for allowing its platform to be used to incite violence and hatred.
Prosecutors announced, Wednesday, that two Reuters journalists were formally charged with obtaining state secrets in Myanmar and face up to 14 years in prison. The documents allegedly obtained by the journalists related to supposed ‘ethnic cleansing’ by Myanmar’s military. The military made a rare admission of wrongdoing, saying 10 Rohingya ‘terrorists’ were murdered by soldiers.