Unifor condemns the conviction of two Reuters journalists who were sentenced to 7 years in prison after covering the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
“This verdict undermines the fundamental freedom of the press and the work of journalists who were doing their jobs, trying to cover the fight for democracy in Myanmar,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were convicted Monday for illegally possessing government documents, under an archaic Myanmar law.
They were investigating the killing of Rohingya villagers by security forces of Rohingya villagers at the time of their arrest.
The evidence presented by the same security forces has been criticized by several legal experts who argue that the convictions should be overturned.
The Rohingya are a stateless people who lived primarily in Rakhine State on Myanmar’s west coast. Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims has been widely condemned by Canada and other countries. A majority of the Rohingya people are Muslim and have faced repeated persecution, including military crackdowns that began in 2016. An estimated 900,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh to escape the violence.
Unifor supports Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland’s demand that the journalists be released immediately.
Fearless, independent reporting is vital to democracy.