Reuters says Myanmar held journalists for probing Rohingya massacre

The pair are now facing up to 14 years in prison on charges of possessing classified documents in violation of the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

Published: 09th February 2018 07:47 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th February 2018 07:47 PM   |  A+A-

Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled the area since last August, carrying stories of atrocities at the hands of troops and vigilante groups in the Buddhist-majority country. | AP

By PTI

BANGKOK: Two Reuters journalists detained for two months by Myanmar authorities were arrested over their investigation of a massacre of 10 Rohingya men, the news agency said in a report that detailed the grisly killings.

It is the first time Reuters has publicly confirmed what Myanmar nationals Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were working on when they were arrested on December 12 on the outskirts of Yangon.

The pair are now facing up to 14 years in prison on charges of possessing classified documents in violation of the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

Their plight has sparked global alarm over withering press freedoms in Myanmar and government efforts to curb reporting in northern Rakhine state -- a crisis-hit region where troops are accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims.

Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled the area since last August, carrying stories of atrocities at the hands of troops and vigilante groups in the Buddhist-majority country.

Myanmar authorities deny the allegations but have virtually cut off northern Rakhine, barring independent media from accessing the conflict-hit areas.

On Thursday Reuters published a report describing how Myanmar troops and Buddhist villagers executed 10 Rohingya men in Rakhine's Inn Dinn village on September 2, 2017 before dumping their bodies into a mass grave.

"The Reuters investigation of the Inn Din massacre was what prompted Myanmar police authorities to arrest two of the news agency's reporters," the report said.

The account was based on testimony from Buddhist villagers, security officers and relatives of the slain men.

It included graphic photographs of the victims, hands bound kneeling on the floor before the killing -- and of their bodies in a pit after.

A month after the journalists' arrests, Myanmar's army issued a rare statement admitting that security forces took part in extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya "terrorists" in Inn Din village.

The Reuters report said witnesses denied there had been any major attack from Rohingya militants before the alleged massacre.

A Myanmar government spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.

But Myanmar vehemently denies systematic abuses by its security officers, despite a mounting volume of evidence pointing to atrocities.

Judges have denied bail to the two reporters during a pre-trial hearing period, despite calls for their release from human rights groups and diplomats around the globe.

The next hearing is scheduled for February 14.

Stay up to date on all the latest World news with The New Indian Express App. Download now
(Get the news that matters from New Indian Express on WhatsApp. Click this link and hit 'Click to Subscribe'. Follow the instructions after that.)

Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

facebook twitter whatsapp