Jailed for the Truth

September 21, 2018
SENTENCED Wa Lone (center) leaves court in Myanmar. He is one of two journalists sent to prison this month for reporting on violence against the Rohingya people.
YE AUNG THU—AFP/GETTY IMAGES

A court in Myanmar has sentenced two journalists to seven years in prison. The judge ruled that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo got hold of secret government documents. The journalists pleaded not guilty. Many think the ruling is unfair.

The journalists were arrested while doing their job. They were reporting on military attacks against Rohingya people. The Rohingya are an ethnic minority in Myanmar. Some 700,000 of them have fled to neighboring Bangladesh to escape recent violence. The United Nations (U.N.) is calling for criminal charges against military officers.

Wa Lone warned the crowd outside the court. Leaders are “destroying freedom of the press in our country,” he said.

Other journalists in Myanmar have faced trouble. More than 30 have been charged with crimes for their work there in the past few years. Myanmar’s government says reports of violence against Rohingya are “fake news.”

Nikki Haley is U.S. ambassador to the U.N. She called the convictions “another terrible stain” on Myanmar’s government. She added: “In a free country, it is the duty of a responsible press to keep people informed and hold leaders accountable.”

Stop & Think! What effects might the jailing of these reporters have on other members of the press in the United States and around the world?