Myanmar media groups condemn Reuters journalists’ jailing

Journalists in Mandalay show their solidarity with, and call for the release of Reuters journalists Ko Wa Lone and Ko Kyaw Soe Oo, who were convicted to seven years’ imprisonment on Monday. / Zaw Zaw / The Irrawaddy

MANDALAY (The Irrawaddy) — Nine Myanmar journalist networks issued a joint statement on Tuesday condemning the verdict of the two Reuters reporters and urging the government to do everything possible to achieve justice.

The statement said that since the reporters were framed and unjustly sentenced to seven years in prison, the government must act in accordance with the law and serve justice, as the verdict is a threat to press freedom.

“The government must do everything they can according to the law for the justice of the jailed Reuters reporters and promote freedom of press which is dramatically declining,” said the statement.

The statement also said that press freedom is declining under the governance of the ruling party, the National League for Democracy, as since they took up office in April 2016, there have been a series of lawsuits against news agencies and journalists causing fear in journalists who are doing their job.

“In the face of the international community, Myanmar has become a country where the standard of press freedom is declining and the government should see this as a threat which affects the country’s transition towards democracy,” said the statement, highlighting the verdict of the two Reuters reporters under the Official Secrets Act on Monday.

The statement was signed by the Myanmar Journalist Network, Myae Latt Journalist Network, Magway Journalist Network, Taunggyi Journalist Association, Chin Media Network, Southern Myanmar Journalist Network, MJN (Ayeyarwaddy), Myanmar Women Journalists Society and Monywa Journalist Network.

The Myanmar Press Council (MPC) also issued a statement on Tuesday, saying the sentencing of the two journalists neglects the Constitution and existing media laws.

“Sentencing the Reuters reporters with a 1923 colonial-era law, which cruelly oppresses journalists, is neglecting the Constitution and the existing media laws,” said the statement from MPC.

“This incident not only affects the right to information but also the flow of information to the people, which could seriously affect the image of the country,” the statement added.




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