Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Suu Kyi defends court decision to jail Reuters reporters

Suu Kyi defends court decision to jail Reuters reporters

"They were not jailed because they were journalists, they were jailed because.the court decided they had broken the Official Secrets Act", she told an audience at the World Economic Forum in Hanoi.

At the same event, she also addressed the plight of two imprisoned Reuters journalists who were sentenced to seven years in prison last week for violating an arcane state secrets law after they exposed a massacre of Rohingya men and boys.

Throughout the half-hour conversation with Mr Brende, Ms Suu Kyi stayed clear of talking about her party's chances in the next general election, which is just two years away.

The United Nations, human rights and press freedom groups and various governments criticized the convictions.

Once a vocal and valiant proponent of freedom of speech, Aung San Suu Kyi did not have much to say while the case was on trial, even as global governments and the media panned it as an attack on free speech and a huge step backward for democracy in Myanmar.

The two journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, say they were framed and that the allegedly secret documents they had in their possession were planted on them by a police officer.

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Dan Damon has been speaking to Phil Robertson, the Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch Asia. "The case was held in open court. I don't think anybody has bothered to read the summary of the judge", she said during a discussion at the World Economic Forum in Hanoi, adding that the pair still have the right to appeal.

Suu Kyi's speech would seem to indicate the worldwide condemnation on both cases has finally gotten through to former Nobel Peace Prize victor. The case has drawn worldwide attention as an example of how democratic reforms in long-isolated Myanmar have stalled under Aung San Suu Kyi's civilian government, which took power in 2016.

Sean Bain, of the International Commission of Jurists, said: "Open courts are created to shed light on the justice process".

However, Aung San Suu Kyi said the reporters have the right to "appeal the judgment and to point out why the judgment was wrong".

The ferocity of that crackdown has thrust Myanmar into a firestorm of criticism as Western goodwill evaporates towards a country ruled by a ruthless junta until 2015. She refused, however, to criticise the Burmese security forces, whose commanders face calls by the United Nations to be prosecuted for genocide.

The International Criminal Court has said it can investigate the alleged deportation of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

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Also, Aung San Suu Kyi will not be attending the UN General Assembly session in early October, the 7Day Daily reported, citing an official.

Between the Rohingya crisis and the jailing of Reuters journalists, Myanmar's State Counselor is in an extraordinary bind.

The violence in Rakhine has eased but Myanmar now has to deal with its aftermath, especially the repatriation of the Rohingyas.

In the camps in Bangladesh, which constitute the world's largest single refugee settlement, some Rohingya have expressed reluctance to return to the site of so much slaughter by the Myanmar military and Buddhist mobs.

The jailing of the Reuters reporters has sent a chill through Myanmar's nascent media scene.

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