Members Area

FCC Hong Kong statement on release of Reuters journalists

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong welcomes the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo who had been jailed for their reporting on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.

Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. Picture taken December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Antoni Slodkowski Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. Picture taken December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Antoni Slodkowski

Over the 16 months the pair spent behind bars, the FCC Hong Kong and other press organisations had repeatedly called for the charges to be dropped and for the two men to return home to their families. They were only doing their jobs, and had not committed any crimes.

The FCC Hong Kong congratulates them on their long overdue freedom and reunion with their families.

Reporters in Myanmar continue to face prosecution for public-interest reporting as well as pressure to self-censor, even under the elected civilian-led government of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate who had been the country’s most famous political prisoner for many years.

The FCC Hong Kong continues to call on Suu Kyi and her administration to support press freedom and ensure that journalists are able to work without threat of retaliation.

FCC Hong Kong reiterates call for immediate release of Reuters journalists on trial in Myanmar

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong again calls for the immediate release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Myanmar journalists with the Reuters news agency who had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men who were buried in a mass grave.

Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. Picture taken December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Antoni Slodkowski Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. Picture taken December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Antoni Slodkowski

The pair, charged last week with breaching the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, were in court testifying this week. Both have pleaded not guilty to the charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. Over the past six months, the FCC Hong Kong and other press organisations have repeatedly called for the charges to be dropped and for the two men to return home to their families. They were engaged in normal reporting activities and had not committed any wrongdoing.

Once again, we call on Aung San Suu Kyi and her civilian government to act to defend press freedom as the country undertakes its transition to democracy. Her government has an opportunity to show that it respects the beneficial role of a free and independent media, and will ensure that journalists are able to work without threat of retaliation.

With a verdict now possibly weeks away, it is also vital that everyone who believes in press freedom denounces efforts to silence journalists, in Myanmar and elsewhere around the globe. One easy place to start is by signing a petition for their release: goo.gl/1kPTwX

#FreeWaLoneKyawSoeOo

Foreign press clubs call for immediate release of Reuters journalists in Myanmar

Three months ago, Myanmar police invited two Reuters reporters to a restaurant in northern Yangon. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men who were buried in a mass grave after being hacked to death or shot by ethnic Rakhine Buddhist villagers and soldiers.

Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. Picture taken December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Antoni Slodkowski Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Antoni Slodkowski

At the dinner, police handed the pair some documents. They were arrested almost immediately afterward and later charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

On the 100th day since the arrest of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, 10 foreign correspondents’ clubs throughout Asia are again calling for their immediate release. The two journalists were engaged in normal reporting activities, and had not committed any wrongdoing. All charges against them should be dropped.

“We are not doing anything wrong,” Kyaw Soe Oo told reporters after the pair were formally charged. “Please help us by uncovering the truth.”

Their trial is now underway, with a verdict possible in the coming weeks. The outcome will have repercussions for Myanmar and the entire region, where press freedom is increasingly under attack.

We call on Aung San Suu Kyi and her civilian government to act to defend press freedom as the country undertakes its transition to democracy. It is vital that Myanmar respects the beneficial role of a free and independent media and ensures that journalists are able to work without threat of retaliation.

FCC Hong kong's president Florence de Changy (left) with Geoff Crothall from the Press Freedom Committee at the Myanmar consulate on March 21. The consulate had closed early but building management promised they would hand in the 3 volumes of signatures to the consulate when it opens again. FCC Hong Kong’s president Florence de Changy (left) with Geoff Crothall from the Press Freedom Committee at the Myanmar consulate on March 21. The consulate had closed early but building management promised they would hand in the 3 volumes of signatures to the consulate when it opens again.

We also call on all those who believe in press freedom to keep up the pressure on authorities who want to silence journalists, in Myanmar and elsewhere around the globe. One easy place to start is by signing a petition for their release: goo.gl/1kPTwX

A delegation of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong walked to the Myanmar consulate on Wednesday, March 21 to hand over a petition with more than 42,000 signatures demanding the immediate release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

“We are not doing anything wrong,” Kyaw Soe Oo told reporters after the pair were formally charged. “Please help us by uncovering the truth.”

#FreeWaLoneKyawSoeOo

Foreign Correspondents Association of Singapore
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China
Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia
Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand
Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club
National Press Club of Australia
Editorial Committee, The Society of Publishers in Asia
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan
The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of South Asia, New Delhi
The Overseas Press Club of Cambodia

Democracy Now reports on the story – watch from 5 minutes 20 seconds.

FCC Hong Kong speaks out on mounting threats to press freedom across Asia

Press freedom is under attack across Asia, creating one of the most restrictive environments for journalists in recent memory. Over the past few months, critical newspapers have been closed and reporters have been charged with crimes for simply doing their jobs. Leaders are routinely crying “fake news” to undermine stories that speak truth to power, employing a phrase made popular by the president of the United States – a country that was once one of the biggest advocates for a free press across the globe.

Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. Picture taken December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Antoni Slodkowski Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. Picture taken December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Antoni Slodkowski

What’s particularly worrying is that supposedly democratic governments are increasingly taking action to silence critical reporting. It’s no longer just China, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam that are bullying the media. Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines and Myanmar – now led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi – are also becoming hazardous for journalists.

Today in Myanmar, two journalists with the Reuters news agency who have been arrested and charged under a section of the Official Secrets Act were denied bail. They now face months in custody during pre-trial hearings on the charges which carry a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. The FCC deplores the legal action against the pair, which will have a chilling effect on press freedom in Myanmar.

Other recent major incidents include:

– The closure of The Cambodia Daily after 25 years due to government pressure over a tax dispute
Rappler, a news organisation that undertook brave reporting about Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly crackdown on drugs, had its operating license revoked because it violated the country’s restrictions on foreign ownership of domestic media

Press freedom is the core of free societies around the globe. For those who believe in keeping the powerful accountable to the public, it’s more important than ever to speak up. And for all politicians around the globe who care about democratic values, it’s essential to keep up the pressure on those who want to silence journalists.

 

We measure site performance with cookies to improve performance.