World Media

Aung San Suu Kyi defends jailing of Burmese journalists

Aung San Suu Kyi defends jailing of Burmese journalists

Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has defended the imprisonment of two Reuters journalists.

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.

But Western criticism has mounted of Suu Kyi's failure to speak out against military treatment of the Rohingya and of her attitude to the treatment of the journalists. "We can't choose who should be protected by rule of law", she said in rare comments on the crackdown.

"If anyone feels there has been a miscarriage of justice I would like them to point it out", Ms. Suu Kyi said, saying they could appeal to higher courts. "The case was held in open court".

Pence at the beginning of the month tweeted that "Wa Lone & Kyaw Soe Oo shd be commended-not imprisoned-for their work exposing human rights violations & mass killings".

"The worldwide condemnation heading Aung San Suu Kyi's way is fully deserved, she should be ashamed".

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

Army-led "clearance operations" that started in August previous year drove 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, carrying with them widespread accounts of atrocities - rape, murder and arson - by Burmese police and troops.

United Nations investigators last month said Myanmar's military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya with "genocidal intent", and that the commander-in-chief and five generals should be prosecuted for the gravest crimes under worldwide law.

The International Criminal Court has said it can investigate the alleged deportation of Rohingya from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

Russia, China Flex Military Might Together
Since then Moscow has increased the number of its large-scale military exercises in the Caucasus, the Baltic and the Arctic. The exercise simulated a "massive missile attack" by an "unnamed enemy", another military official Sergei Tikhonov said.

Aung San Suu Kyi has come under intense pressure to use her moral authority inside Myanmar to defend the pair.

"If we believe in the rule of law, they have every right to appeal the judgment and to point out why the judgment was wrong, Suu Kyi said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Hanoi".

The Rohingya crisis, that has seen up to 800,00 ethnic Muslims flee from majority Buddhist Myanmar to neighbouring Bangladesh has shattered her global reputation.

However, her reticence on both the fate of the Rohingya and the jailed journalists has been condemned by human rights groups and one-time admirers worldwide.

The stateless Rohingya are denied citizenship in Myanmar and widely reviled in the Buddhist-majority country.

Aid workers say conditions for a safe and orderly return of the refugees have not been met.

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

She also rejected criticism from leaders, including Prime Minister Theresa May and United States vice president Mike Pence, over the convictions of two Reuters news agency reporters who had been investigating the killings of 10 Rohingya men and boys.

It decried the use of the courts and the law by the "government and military in what constitutes a political campaign against independent journalism".


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