Bal­loons for Wa Lone, Kyaw Soe Oo

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - NAW BETTY HAN naw­bet­ty­han@mm­times.com

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.

PHOTO: AUNG KHANT

Photo: Aung Khant

Ac­tivists protest for the pub­lic’s right to in­for­ma­tion in front of City Hall in down­town Yan­gon on Sun­day.

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