11 January, 2018, London UK -- On Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 Burma formally charged Reuters Journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo violating the country’s Secrets Act, an antiquated law from the colonial era, for supposedly receiving confidential military information. The journalists have denied even violating the act, and circumstances surrounding their arrest appear to show a case of entrapment where the military arranged for someone to give the journalists these documents without their knowledge or consent so they could then be charged for possessing them. The supposed documents the journalists are charged with possessing relate to Burma’s Rakhine State, where Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have covered human rights violations by the military against the ethnic Rohingya.
18 December, 2017, London, UK -- The Burma Human Rights Network is extremely alarmed by the arrests of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo who work as journalists for Reuters The two were arrested late in the evening on December 12th or Early in the morning on December 13th and have been accused of being in possession of documents related to the military’s operations in Rakhine State, where the Government has been widely accused of carrying out ethnic cleansing. The arrests of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo give every indication of a orchestrated attempt to suppress media outlets that challenge official government narratives and fit into a greater pattern of arrests and intimidation against the media.
“The erosion of press freedom in Burma, especially in regards to covering human rights and conflict, is a deeply troubling trend in Burma which can not be ignored by the international community. If Burma is to emerge as a truly democratic state it must respect a free press which at times will rightfully hold them accountable, ” Said Kyaw Win, Executive Director of Burma Human Rights Network.
Burma’s Rejection of UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee Signals Need to Ratchet up Pressure on the Government
23 December, 2017, London – On 20 December, the government of Burma informed UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee that it had barred her from access to the country. The Special Rapporteur was due to visit Burma in January to investigate the human rights situation, including abuses against Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State.
“Burma’s decision to block Ms. Lee is another clear sign that the authorities are covering up the horrific human rights violations that have taken place against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in the country. In addition to blocking access for Ms. Lee, the Burmese authorities have refused access to the Human Rights Council’s Independent International Fact-Finding Mission and have intensified repression against journalists. The government and military are plainly attempting to conceal the truth, ” said Kyaw Win, Executive Director of the Burma Human Rights Network.
Since the Burmese military launched its brutal campaign against the Rohingya, over 650,000 refugees have fled from the country. These survivors have described harrowing crimes by the military including murder, torture, forced starvation and rape. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has called the violence a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” that could amount to genocide in a court of law.
[30 November, 2017, London] – On November 23rd, Burma and Bangladesh signed an agreement concerning the repatriation of Rohingya Muslims who fled the country following a targeted violent campaign by the Burmese security forces. Commenting on the plan today, Burma Human Rights Network Executive Director Kyaw Win said:
“What has been agreed to by the Burmese and Bangladeshi Governments is inadequate in addressing even the most basic concerns of the displaced. The proposed plan makes no effort to address the statelessness and suffering of the Rohingya. In parallel there is insufficient explanation of the verification process for the returnees who have lost relevant documents due to arson attacks by security forces. We therefore urge the international community to reject this plan as it stands, and instead press Bangladesh and Burma to make appropriate revisions, including by ensuring that the UNHCR has a formal role in the return process, to ultimately enable the successful repatriation of the Rohingya”.
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