Free our colleagues - a cry heard around the world
Tuesday 4 September 2018
This was the week when the Reuters family came together and the outstanding camaraderie of its journalists was on display for all to see.
Two journalists were sentenced to prison in Myanmar for what amounted to simply doing their job: reporting the facts. Those facts revealed the killing of ten men from the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority by security forces and civilians in Rakhine State.
The two Reuters men, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were arrested last December. The result of their investigation was published by Reuters in February.
Almost every week since then, they were paraded into a court in Yangon and then sent back to prison cells after hearings on official secrets charges. They consistently pleaded their innocence.
The date of the verdict - originally Monday 27 August but postponed for a week because the judge fell ill - was known around the world. Colleagues knew when their fate would be decided and there was hope that they would be released to be reunited with their young families.
When Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were convicted and sent back to prison for seven years, Reuters journalists in bureaus large and small, from one continent to another, organised a solemn online campaign to demand their freedom.
On social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, #freewalonekyawsoeoo became a viral hashtag seen with photos of unsmiling Reuters staff in offices around the world.
Among many comments posted with pictures, Kevin Krolicki, Asia regional editor, spoke for many when he wrote: “All of Reuters stands with our colleagues Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were arrested and jailed for exposing a massacre in Myanmar. The truth cannot be silenced.” ■