Burmese reporters remain under the gun

World | Agence France-Presse 12 Apr 2018

A Burmese court has rejected a motion to drop a case against two Reuters journalists arrested months ago while reporting on the Rohingya crisis. Instead, authorities are pushing ahead with hearings that have sparked global outrage and fears of shrinking press freedoms.

"The proposal from the defendants' lawyer to release the defendants [is] rejected," judge Ye Lwin told a Rangoon court packed with supporters, family and media.

Reporters Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were arrested in December and accused of violating the official secrets act for possessing material relating to security operations in Rakhine state. Burma has faced global condemnation and accusations of extrajudicial killings, ethnic cleansing and genocide, with some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing Rakhine for Bangladesh following a military crackdown.

The government claims it has been defending itself against attacks from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army.

The Reuters pair were investigating a massacre of 10 Rohingya men by soldiers and Buddhist villagers on September 2 in the Rakhine village of Inn Din. Seven soldiers have now been sentenced to jail with hard labor for roles in the killings.

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