The spouses of two Myanmar reporters for the Reuters news agency who were sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for possessing state secrets said on Tuesday that the court’s decision has shocked them.
The two reporters, namely Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced in proceedings that were widely decried as being highly unfair. They had reported about the army’s brutal counterinsurgency campaign that had driven about 700,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority to leave for Bangladesh. The subject is very sensitive in Myanmar because of the worldwide condemnation of the military’s human rights abuses, which it clearly denies.
Pan Ei Mon, wife of Wa Lone’s wife said at a news conference that she never thought that her husband would get such harsh punishment as everyone knows that he didn’t do anything wrong and the two men had already testified that they were framed by the police.
Pan Ei Mon said she is very disappointed and hurt that the country’s leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, had taken a very legalistic position in an interview in June with Japanese broadcaster NHK by saying that the two reporters were arrested not because they exposed the army’s abuses but for breaking the Official Secret Act.
She added that she is very sad about what Suu Kyi had answered, as she admired and respected her a lot.
Wa Lone who became a father of a girl child on 10th August has yet not seen his daughter.
His wife said that after she gave birth, she tried her best to keep strong with the hope that her daughter would soon see he father, but now after the verdict yesterday her hope was broken and she feels hopeless now.
Chit Su, wife of the other reporter Kyaw Soe Oo’s also said that she had expected her husband to come home and meet their three year old daughter. She added that she had high hopes and so did her husband and now after the verdict she feels she has gone crazy but is still proud of her husband for doing his duty as a journalist. She is still hopeful of mercy from the state.
Even though the military had ruled the country for a half-century and still maintains control of several key ministries, Suu Kyi’s rise to government leader had increased the hopes for an accelerated transition to full democracy. Now her stance on the Rohingya crisis has not gone down well with many former admirers and they feel disappointed.