Jour­nal­ists can ap­peal: Suu Kyi

Jailed Reuters’ re­porters broke ‘Of­fi­cial Se­crets Act’

Global Times - - Front Page -

Myan­mar gov­ern­ment leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thurs­day said two jailed Reuters jour­nal­ists can ap­peal their seven-year sen­tence, and that their jail­ing had noth­ing to do with free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

Asked how she felt about jail­ing jour­nal­ists, Suu Kyi said: “They were not jailed be­cause they were jour­nal­ists, they were jailed be­cause... the court has de­cided that they have bro­ken the Of­fi­cial Se­crets Act.”

She made her com­ments at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum on ASEAN in Hanoi in re­sponse to a ques­tion from the fo­rum mod­er­a­tor who asked whether she felt com­fort­able about the re­porters be­ing jailed.

The jour­nal­ists, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were found guilty on of­fi­cial se­crets charges and sen­tenced ear­lier this month in a land­mark case seen as a test of progress to­wards democ­racy in Myan­mar.

Their im­pris­on­ment has prompted an in­ter­na­tional out­pour­ing of sup­port, in­clud­ing a call for their re­lease by US Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence.

“I won­der whether very many peo­ple have ac­tu­ally read the sum­mary of the judge­ment which had noth­ing to do with free­dom of ex­pres­sion at all, it had to do with an Of­fi­cial Se­crets Act,” Suu Kyi said.

“If we be­lieve in the rule of law, they have ev­ery right to ap­peal the judg­ment and to point out why the judge­ment was wrong.”

When asked to com­ment on Pence’s call to re­lease the jour­nal­ists, Suu Kyi re­sponded by ask­ing if the crit­ics felt there had been a mis­car­riage of jus­tice.

“The case has been held in open court and all the hear­ings have been open to ev­ery­body who wished to go and at­tend them and if any­body feels there has been a mis­car­raige of jus­tice I would like them to point it out,” she said.

The guilty ver­dicts of the two Reuters re­porters on Septem­ber 3 has sharply di­vided public opin­ion in Myan­mar. On Wed­nes­day Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were hon­ored by a foun­da­tion set up by the late Win Tin, one of the coun­try’s most prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers and a close ally of Suu Kyi.

Zaw Htay, spokesper­son for the of­fice of Myan­mar’s pres­i­dent, was not im­me­di­ately avail­able to com­ment on Suu Kyi’s re­marks.

Ear­lier on Thurs­day, Suu Kyi at the same WEF ses­sion said in hind­sight her gov­ern­ment could have han­dled the sit­u­a­tion in Rakhine state bet­ter.

“There are of course ways in which we, with hind­sight, might think that the sit­u­a­tion could have been han­dled bet­ter,” Suu Kyi said. “But we be­lieve that for the sake of long-term sta­bil­ity and se­cu­rity we have to be fair to all sides...We can­not choose and pick who should be pro­tected by the rule of law.”

Some 700,000 Ro­hingya Mus­lims fled Rakhine af­ter gov­ern­ment troops led an ac­tion in Myan­mar’s Rakhine state in re­sponse to at­tacks by the Arakan Ro­hingya Sal­va­tion Army on 30 Myan­mar po­lice posts and a mil­i­tary base in Au­gust 2017.

Photo: VCG

Myan­mar State Coun­sel­lor Aung San Suu Kyi speaks at the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum on ASEAN at the Na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­ter in Hanoi on Thurs­day.

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