Saturday, 23 February, 2019

Reuters reporters face 14 years for 'receiving Rohingya secrets'

Reuters’ reporter Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife Chit Su Win in tears along with his cousin carrying his two-year old daughter outside Insein Court in Yangon during the first trial of the two reporters on January 10. Zarni Phyo  The Myanmar Time Reuters reporters face 14 years for 'receiving Rohingya secrets'
Melinda Barton | 13 January, 2018, 05:50

Myanmar police officers stand guard at the Yebawkya village of the Maungdaw township in Rakhine State, western Myanmar, on September 27 past year, after the discovery of 10 bodies buried in a mass grave in a village in northern Rakhine state on September 2.

According to Myanmar's army commander, the 10 Rohingya found in a mass grave in December had allegedly threatened ethnic Buddhist villagers.

"Some villagers from Inn Din village and security members confessed they killed 10 Bengali terrorists", the office said in a Facebook post about the September 2 killings, using a pejorative term for Rohingya.

There was a proposal to build the gas pipeline through Bangladesh in 2004, but then BNP government refused to cooperate in a way that many analysts believe created a "trust deficit" with the neighbour Myanmar with which Bangladesh is facing Rohingya crisis for decades.

The government of Myanmar's de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, could not resolve the problems in ethnically and religiously divided Rakhine without the collaboration of military leaders and the nation's former leaders, Saw Hlaing, executive member of the California-based Burmese American Muslims Association, told the Myanmar Service of Radio Free Asia (RFA), a sister entity of BenarNews.

The European Union's called on authorities in Myanmar to release two Reuters journalists after prosecutors charged them for violating the official secrets act.

A Myanmar government spokesman said the insurgents were trying to delay the repatriation of refugees from Bangladesh under a plan the two governments have been working on.

The ministry has said they "illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media".

Myanmar is in the process of issuing the Rohingya national verification cards as part of a citizenship eligibility process for undocumented people in Rakhine.

Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone after the trail yesterday. Zarni Phyo  The Myanmar Times

While the eyes of the world are on Myanmar's northern Rakhine and Bangladesh's Cox's Bazar, more than 60,000 Rohingya children remain almost forgotten, trapped in appalling camps in central Rakhine where the shelters teeter on stilts above garbage and excrement, says Unicef.

The Defense Ministry said it will take action against the perpetrators involved in those killings and those in charge of security forces in the Rakhine State. "Only when local Rakhine ethnic people accept it, will all the people satisfy it".

The announcement came as a rare admission of wrongdoing by the Myanmar military, which has denied committing extrajudicial killings and other atrocities against the Rohingya during the crackdown.

The pair had been reporting on the military campaign in the northern state of Rakhine that has forced some 655,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee over the border to Bangladesh since August.

"It is appalling that soldiers have attempted to justify extrajudicial executions by saying they were needed as reinforcements elsewhere and did not know what to do with the men", he said. Such behaviour shows a contempt for human life which is simply beyond comprehension.

Min Aung Hlaing said on Tuesday that foreign extremist groups are likely backing ARSA, which carried out an ambush on January 5 that injured six soldiers and their civilian driver.

"We have to be prepared for that, and both diplomatic and businesses need to be oriented".

Human right groups around the world have accused the Myanmar government of carrying out a genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority for years.

Reported by Thiri Min Zin and Khin Khin Ei for RFA's Myanmar Service.