Naypyidaw, Myanmar: After the imprisonment of two Reuters journalist who was investigating the killing of Rohingya’s, Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi defended the jailing of journalists, as she hit back at global criticism of a trial widely seen as an attempt to muzzle the free press.
She acknowledged that the brutal crackdown on the Muslim minority — which the United Nations has cast as “genocide” — could have been “handled better”, but insisted the two reporters had been treated fairly.
“They were not jailed because they were journalists” but because “the court has decided that they had broken the Official Secrets Act”, she said.
“There are of course ways (in) which, in hindsight, the situation could have been handled better,” she said.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were each imprisoned for seven years on September 3 for breaching the country’s hardline Official Secrets Act while reporting on atrocities committed during the military crackdown in Rakhine State.
“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, adding the pair still had the right to appeal.
Army-led “clearance operations” that started in August 2017 drove 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, carrying with them widespread accounts of atrocities — rape, murder and arson — by Myanmar police and troops.
A U.N. fact-finding panel has called for Myanmar Army chief Min Aung Hlaing and several other top generals to be prosecuted for genocide.
The International Criminal Court has said it has jurisdiction to open an investigation, even though Myanmar is not a member of the tribunal.