By Kyaw Ye LynnYANGON – An appeal has been filed for two Reuters journalists who were sentenced to long imprisonments in Myanmar for unraveling the atrocities, according to their lawyer on Monday.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were handed a seven-year sentence in September under a colonial-era law for allegedly breaching the Official Secrets Act as they investigated the murder of 10 Rohingya men in the western Rakhine state.
Defense lawyer Than Zaw Aung confirmed to Anadolu Agency that an appeal was filed against the conviction on Monday.“The appeal was lodged because the ruling is unfair and wrong,” Aung told Anadolu Agency.Reuters President and Editor-in-Chief, Stephen J. Adler said in a statement that the appeal cited evidence of a police set-up and lack of proof of a crime."In condemning them as spies, it ignored compelling evidence of a police set-up, serious due process violations, and the prosecution's failure to prove any of the key elements of the crime," Adler said.He called on Myanmar to "uphold its stated dedication to rule of law, freedom of the press, and democracy by ordering the release of our colleagues."
The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience".
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly children, and women, fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
The UN has documented mass gang rapes, killings — including of infants and young children — brutal beatings, and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces. In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.