12 journalists’ groups condemn arrest of Reuters reporters

13 December 2017

We have learned that two reporters from Reuters news agency – Thet Oo Maung (a) Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo (a) Moe Aung – have been arrested under Section 3 of the Burma Official Secrets Act at the HtaukKyant Police Station on the night of December 12 for possessing reports on the fighting in the Maungdaw District, Rakhine State.

We believe that journalists have rights to cover news, getting the ground and in touch with news sources, rights to ask questions and gather information which was related to the news in order to give a complete and accurate report to the audience.

Although we accept the fact that journalists should not publish information that may harm the national security from among the information they have learned while they are covering the news. It seems to threaten press freedom by accusing them of violating the Burma Official Secrets Act for only possessing information relating to the news.

We viewed their arrest as an act that will bring down the dignity of the democratic government because they have been arrested under the Burma Official Secrets Act, which has been enacted by the British colonial-era in 1923 with the aim to oppress the ruled, Myanmar people.

We are deeply concerned over possible violation of their citizens’ rights since we have learned about the journalists not being allowed to contact their family members after their arrest.

We urge the authorities to explain this incident with transparency and release both journalists immediately.

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