Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

European Union urges release of jailed journalists in Myanmar

European Union urges release of jailed journalists in Myanmar

Instead, two senior Ministers in her government, Kyaw Tint Swe and Kyaw Tin - who in the past defended Myanmar's former military regime on the global stage - would attend and "explain current developments on repatriation and cooperation with worldwide organisations", the official, permanent secretary Myint Thu, was paraphrased as saying.

In just under three years, Myanmar's 1991 Nobel Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi has gone from triumphant former political prisoner - feted around the globe as Southeast Asia's Nelson Mandela - to her country's de-facto leader (or is she?) and a spectacular disappointment to those same supporters.

Her government has not said how many non-Rohinyga have been killed over the past year in Rakhine, but numbers from local officials suggest that the total figure is somewhat higher than 50.

Myanmar has also come under worldwide criticism for jailing two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who had reported on a massacre of Rohingya civilians.

"For Aung San Suu Kyi to not speak out and to talk about a proportionate response to terrorism is a total abdication of any morality", Khanna said. "We can't choose who should be protected by rule of law", she said. Speaking at the World Economic forum she said the conviction of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had "nothing to do with freedom of expression at all".

When asked to comment on Pence's call to release the journalists, Suu Kyi responded by asking if the critics felt there had been a miscarriage of justice. Although Suu Kyi lacks command control over the armed forces, she has been criticized for not doing more to stop the carnage.

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

"Sadly in this case we've seen both institutional and individual failings to hold up the principles of rule of law and human rights".

Myanmar is facing worldwide pressure over its alleged military crackdown after Rohingya militants attacked security forces in August 2017.

The ferocity of that crackdown has thrust Myanmar into a firestorm of criticism as Western goodwill evaporates toward a nation ruled by a ruthless junta until 2015.

A United Nations 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 said it has jurisdiction to open an investigation, even though Myanmar is not a member of the tribunal.

Aung San Suu Kyi touched on investment in Thursday's interview, and in comments on stage with other ASEAN leaders on Wednesday, saying that Myanmar welcomed competition. She will not be attending the United Nations General Assembly this month, an event she also skipped past year as outrage mounted over the exodus of the Rohingya.

She added, "they were not jailed because they were journalists, they were jailed because the court decided that they had broken the Official Secrets Act".

Yet Myanmar does not want its Rohingya, denying them citizenship while the Buddhist-majority public falsely label them "Bengali" interlopers.

The guilty verdicts of the two Reuters reporters on September 3 has sharply divided public opinion in Myanmar.

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