The Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) denounces in the strongest possible terms the conviction handed down today by a Myanmar court to Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, sentencing them to a seven-year jail term.
The baseless conviction of the two brave journalists, using trumped-up evidence provided by police authorities, dealt a fatal blow to press freedom and democracy in Myanmar.
It also signaled a travesty of justice by a government where the ruling National League for Democracy chaired by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi had inspired hope for a return to democracy of the erstwhile pariah state whose reform journey began in 2011 after 50 years of brutal military rule.
SEAPA urges the Myanmar state to reverse the verdict and free Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and drop all charges against them. Freedom of expression, including the media’s right to report freely and immediately, is extremely vital to the pursuit of a successful political reform agenda and peace process that are direly needed in Myanmar today.