Balloons for Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo
Activists hold a protest calling for the public’s right to information and for the release of jailed journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, in front of Yangon City Hall on Sunday. The duo was sentenced on September 3 to seven years in prison after they were found guilty of violating the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act.
DOZENS of protesters on Sunday gathered at Maha Bandoola Park in downtown Yangon to demand the release of two journalists from Reuters news agency who were sentenced earlier this month to seven years in prison for violating the country’s Official Secrets Act.
The protesters, comprised of press freedom advocates and local journalists, shouted, “Right to information,” “Killing is not a state secret,” and “Free Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo”.
They lamented the failure of the government to protect and uphold press freedom in the country.
Maung Saung Kha, the leader of the protest, at first wore the formal dress of the ruling National League for Democracy then changed into a military uniform to dramatise the transformation of the NLD into a military party.
“The right to information is a vital role in a democratic country; the arrest and sentencing of the journalists, means the democratic values of Myanmar are on the decline,” said Tha Lon Zun Htet, spokesperson of the Protection Committee for Myanmar Journalists.
“The state-owned media cannot stand up for the right to information; the real information is coming from the independent media,” he added.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested on the outskirts of Yangon on December 12, 2017, after meeting two police sources who handed them allegedly classified documents that included the disposition of government forces in northern Rakhine State.
The duo had been investigating the alleged massacre by soldiers of 10 Muslims suspected of belonging to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army at Inn Din village in Maungdaw township of northern Rakhine.
Activists protest for the public’s right to information in front of City Hall in downtown Yangon on Sunday.