UN Chief calls on Myanmar to free arrested journalists

Washington: Condemning the arrest of two journalists in Myanmar, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated that their arrest indicated that press freedom is shrinking in Southeast Asian country and the international community must do all it can to get them released.

Guterres, who spoke to press in Tokyo on Thursday, drew the plight of the two arrested Reuters journalists “in relation to the dramatic violations of human rights that occurred in the country, and led to 600,000 people being forced to flee,” reported CNN.

In connection with the arrest of journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who had been working on stories about the conflict in the restive Rakhine State, the UN chief said, “It is clearly a concern in relation to the erosion of press freedom in the country.”

The news agency confirmed that the duo was working on stories about the Rohingya minority in western Rakhine state, when they were arrested on Tuesday.

“And probably the reason why these journalists were arrested is because they were reporting on what they have seen in relation to this massive human tragedy,” Guterres added.

The two reporters were arrested under the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum 14-year jail sentence, the report said.

Both journalists are Myanmar citizens.

Guterres said that the international community should do everything possible to secure the journalists’ release and freedom of the press in Myanmar.

Earlier, on December 5, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein condemned the brutal attacks at and decades-long discrimination against the Rohingyas, citing they could contain “elements of genocide”.

At least 6,700 Rohingyas were killed between August and September after violence broke out in Myanmar’s northern restive Rakhine state, according to the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF).

More than 6,20,000 Rohingyas have fled to Bangladesh since the Myanmar security forces launched an operation in the Rakhine state in response to the alleged attacks by militants on August 25 against 30 police posts and a regimental headquarters.(ANI)