Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were accused of leaking state secrets while reporting on the brutal ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in the Rahkine state.
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 international governments and the media panned it as an attack on free speech and a huge step backward for democracy in Myanmar.
However, after the court verdict ruled Wa Lone, and Kyaw Soe Oo seven years in jail, Aung San Suu Kyi defended the imprisonment and demanded those who criticize the judgment show her where there has been a “miscarriage of justice.”
She insisted the two individuals were not jailed for doing their job but for violation a colonial-era Official Secrets Act.
“I wonder whether very many people have actually read the summary of the judgment which had nothing to do with freedom of expression at all, it had to do with an Official Secrets Act,” she said while addressing the World Economic Forum in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The two journalists maintain they were targeted for their investigation and reporting of gross human rights violations against Rohingya Muslims, which have resulted in more than 700,000 Rohingya fleeing over the border to Bangladesh since August 2017.
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 Nobel laureate’s statement crushed any hope that a pardon was on the way for the journalists.
The United Nations and human rights organizations all over the world condemned the trial of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who claimed they had been framed by police officers who provided them with official documents just before their arrest.
Rohingya Muslims faced unthinkable atrocities at the hands of military troops, who engaged in state-sanctioned genocide — the U.N. recently said the mass killings and gang rapes of the minority were taken out with “genocidal intent.”
Myanmar rejected the findings but in Hanoi, Aung San Suu Kyi conceded the “situation” could have been handled better.
“There are of course ways in which, with hindsight, the situation could’ve been handled better,” said Aung San Suu Kyi. “But we believe that in order to have long-term security and stability we have to be fair to all sides. We can’t choose who should be protected by rule of law.”
To attribute brutal killings of a minority, a “situation,” the statement truly echoes why Aung San Suu Kyi has lost her place in the much of international standings.
As a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi’s criminal silence saw many bodies withdraw their honors and accolades from her. These groups include a major British trade union, the London School of Economics, the US Holocaust Museum and Dublin.
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