Two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, won the Pulitizer Prize for their investigative reporting about the Rohingya killings in Myanmar's Rakhine state, on Monday, 15 April.
What makes the prestigious win even more extraordinary is that the journalists have been jailed for 490 days so far.
Imprisoned For Their Work
For uncovering the state's crimes, authorities in Myanmar jailed the two reporters on the charges of breaking the British colonial-era law, the ‘Official Secrets Act,’ reported The Quint.
They have been languishing in jail for around 490 days already, after being arrested in December 2017, reported Reuters. They were sentenced for seven years.
Meanwhile, Reuters, human rights activists and press freedom organisations continue to press for their release.
The Editors Guild of India, too, condemned their arrest, reported The Quint.
In 2018, they were named ‘Time’s person of the year’ along with three other journalists.
“I'm thrilled that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and their colleagues have been recognised for their extraordinary, courageous coverage...I remain deeply distressed, however, that our brave reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are still behind bars," Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler said to ANI.
‘We'll Celebrate When Reporters Are Free,’ Say Reuters
Reuters' leaders say they're proud that the news service won Pulitzer Prizes for international reporting and breaking news photography, but they're dismayed that two reporters are in prison for their award-winning work, according to a report by AP news.
Thomson Reuters CEO Jim Smith says the news service “won’t be truly celebrating until Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are free.”
The journalists are serving a seven-year sentence after being convicted of violating Myanmar's Official Secrets Act. They were reporting on a brutal crackdown on Rohingya Muslims by security forces in the Buddhist-majority country when they were arrested in December 2017.
The prize-winning breaking news photographs depicted Central American migrants heading to the US.
Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler says the recognition is gratifying, but in his words, "public attention should be focused more on the people about whom we report than on us."
What Was the Winning Report On?
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo handled an investigative report that revealed the murder of 10 Muslim Rohingya men at the Inn Din village of the Rakhine state by Buddhist villagers and Myanmar security forces, reported Reuters.
The journalists, who are also Myanmar citizens, were pushed to file a report upon seeing “a mass grave filled with bones sticking out of the ground.” The obtained the devastating evidence only to be arrested before completing their report.
Reuters added that their work titled ‘Massacre in Myanmar’ was then taken over by their colleages who published the story in February 2018.
(With inputs from Reuters, ANI and AP News)
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