Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Reporters’ wives plead for their release



Reporters’ wives plead for their release

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Chit Su Win made an emotional appeal to Aung San Suu Kyi to free her husband. AFp

Reporters’ wives plead for their release

THE wife of one of two Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar made an emotional appeal Tuesday to Aung San Suu Kyi to free her husband for the sake of their young daughter, as the leader comes under increasing criticism for her silence on the case.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were arrested while reporting on atrocities committed during the military’s bloody expulsion of some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims last year.

A Yangon court on Monday found them guilty under the Official Secrets Act and sentenced them to seven years in prison, sparking outrage from the UN, EU and US as well as media and rights groups.

Suu Kyi was herself subjected to house arrest for some 15 years, relying on foreign media to highlight a plight that kept her away from her own children as they grew up.

Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife Chit Su Win, 23, broke down in tears as she asked the Nobel Peace Prize laureate to release her husband, the father of their three-year-old daughter.

“I want my husband to come back,” she said. “I cry when my daughter asks me why her father is not with us. She asks me, ‘Does he not love me?’”

A UN report last week accused Suu Kyi of failing to use her moral authority to stem the violence last year and called for the generals to be prosecuted for “genocide”.

Her silence on the case and the verdict – the sternest test in recent years to free speech in the country – has shredded her reputation even further.

But Aung Hla Tun, a former Reuters journalist who is now Deputy Minister of Information, defended Suu Kyi’s reticence.

“Criticising the judicial system would be tantamount to contempt of court,” he told AFP. “I don’t think she will do it.”

‘Sad day for Myanmar’

A whistleblowing policeman had corroborated the defence argument that the reporters had been entrapped by police, who handed them documents over dinner before their arrest.

But the judge chose to ignore the testimony.

Lawyers for the pair will appeal the verdict although the lengthy process will take months, if not years.

The country’s president, a close ally of Suu Kyi, could also pardon the reporters but experts say any immediate intervention is unlikely.

Erstwhile Suu Kyi advocates overseas have been left dismayed by her attitude to the journalists’ ordeal.

Her one public reference to the Reuters journalists during the court case – telling Japanese broadcaster NHK that the pair had broken the Official Secrets Act – was criticised by rights groups for potentially prejudicing the verdict.

Wa Lone’s wife Pan Ei Mon described the families’ sadness on seeing the interview, saying that was the moment they “realised that she didn’t know about the case clearly”.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Siem Reap’s $18M zoo said to educate public, help wildlife

    Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium Co Ltd has invested $18 million in a zoo in Siem Reap province, which will be opened in October to educate and promote animal conservation as well as attract national and international tourists. Currently, the Angkor Wildlife and Aquarium is building the

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • Nestle’s debut may spur dairy market

    Leading confectionery manufacturer Nestle plans to invest in Cambodia by setting up an operation in the near future, a move majorly hailed by local dairy farmers as a means of boosting the fresh milk market in the Kingdom. During a visit by a delegation led

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement