The decision to jail two Burmese Reuters journalists is a grave miscarriage of justice which fundamentally undermines Burma's fragile democratisation.
The decision to jail two Burmese Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, for seven years simply for doing their job of investigating and reporting atrocities committed by the military in Burma (Myanmar) is a grave miscarriage of justice which fundamentally undermines Burma’s fragile democratisation.
Freedom of the press is fundamental to democracy. The failure of the civilian-led government of Burma to protect journalists and their ability to tell the public the truth about the military’s crimes in Rakhine State and other parts of the country is yet another severe blow to the hopes of a transition to democracy that were raised when the current government was elected three years ago. The refusal to acknowledge the truth, the concerted efforts to hide the truth, and the imprisonment of two young men for reporting the truth are all indications that Burma is continuing in the ways of repression and lies favoured by past military regimes.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should be released immediately and unconditionally. However, theirs is just the most recent, and most high-profile, miscarriage of justice in Burma. Over 70 political prisoners are in Burma’s jails today, convicted or awaiting trial under a number of unjust laws which Aung San Suu Kyi’s government has failed to repeal or reform. We therefore call for the release of all political prisoners in Burma and the repeal or reform of all laws which are misused to silence dissent.
When Aung San Suu Kyi and her government were elected just over three years ago, the international community responded with great hope and unbounded goodwill. No one is unaware of the limitations and challenges the civilian government faces, or of the fact that the military still retains significant power. Yet what has happened in the past three years is of grave concern. Burma’s military stands accused by the United Nations of genocide and crimes against humanity. The perpetrators continue to commit these crimes with impunity, while those who help expose them are threatened, killed, or jailed. No democracy can be built on such bloodshed and lies. It is Burma’s Generals, not its journalists, who should be on trial. We call for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Burma, the repeal or reform of unjust laws, and action by the international community to end impunity and ensure justice, including the referral of those responsible for crimes against humanity in Burma to the International Criminal Court.
Jonathan Aitken – former Cabinet Minister, United Kingdom
Rushanara Ali MP – House of Commons, United Kingdom
Lord Alton of Liverpool – House of Lords, United Kingdom
Professor Jimly Asshiddiqie - former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Indonesia
Teddy Jr. Brawner Baguilat - Member of the House of Representatives, Philippines
Fiona Bruce MP - Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, United Kingdom
Anson Chan - former Chief Secretary, Hong Kong
Dr John Dayal – Writer and human rights activist, India
Dr Thomas Farr – former Director of the Office of International Religious Freedom, State Department, United States
Garnett Genuis MP – House of Commons, Canada
Roger Haddad - Member of Parliament, Sweden
Andrew Khoo – former Co-chair, Malaysian Bar Council Human Rights Committee, Malaysia
David Kilgour – former Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, Canada
Emily Lau - former Chair of the Democratic Party, Hong Kong
Jung-hoon Lee – former Ambassador for Human Rights, Republic of Korea
Martin Lee – founder of the Democratic Party, Hong Kong
Anastasia Lin – actress and former Miss World Canada
Professor Mahfud MD - former Chief Justice of Constitutional Court, Indonesia
David Matas – human rights lawyer, Canada
Andrew Mitchell MP – former Secretary of State for International Development, United Kingdom
Goenawan Mohamad - Writer and Founder of Tempo Magazine, Indonesia
Bishop Michael Nazir-ali – former Anglican Bishop of Rochester, United Kingdom
Sir Geoffrey Nice QC – former chief prosecutor in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, United Kingdom
Birgitta Ohlsson - Member of Parliament and former Minister for EU Affairs, Sweden
Kasit Piromya - former Foreign Minister, Thailand
Dr. M. Imdadun Rahmat - former Chairperson and Member of the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission, Indonesia
Grover Joseph Rees – former US Ambassador to Timor-Leste, United States
Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC – former British Foreign Secretary, United Kingdom
Charles Santiago – Member of the House of Representatives, Malaysia
U Shwe Maung - former Member of the People’s Assembly, Myanmar
Christopher Smith – Member of the House of Representatives, United States
Mu Sochua - former Member of the National Assembly, Cambodia
Eva Kusuma Sundari - Member of the House of Representatives, Indonesia
Caroline Szyber - Member of Parliament, Sweden
Charles Tannock MEP – Member of the European Parliament, United Kingdom