Profiles of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar, possible contender for Nobel Peace Prize
Profiles of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar, possible contender for Nobel Peace Prize
- Title: Profiles of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar, possible contender for Nobel Peace Prize
- Date: 27th September 2019
- Summary: Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were honoured on May 22 with the PEN America 2018 Barbey Freedom to Write Award. Their families accepted the award on their behalf. NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (FILE - MAY 22, 2018) (REUTERS) ***WARNING: CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** WRITER MARGARET ATWOOD GIVING THE PEN/BARBEY FREEDOM TO WRITE AWARD TO CHIT SU WIN, KYAW SOE OO'S WIFE, AND THURA AUNG, WA LONE'S BROTHER (LEFT TO RIGHT) WA LONE'S BROTHER-IN-LAW WIN KHANT KYAW; WA LONE'S BROTHER THURA AUNG; KYAW SOE OO'S SISTER NYO NYO AYE AND KYAW SOE OO'S WIFE CHIT SU WIN HOLDING HIS DAUGHTER'S HANDS, POSING FOR STILL PHOTOS A court in Myanmar charged two Reuters journalists on July 9 with obtaining secret state documents, moving the landmark press freedom case into its trial stage after six months of preliminary hearings. Both journalists pleaded "not guilty" to the charges, telling the judge they had "followed journalistic ethics". Speaking to reporters outside the court, Wa Lone said he and Kyaw Soe Oo had committed no crime and would testify to their innocence in court. YANGON, MYANMAR (FILE - JULY 9, 2018) (REUTERS) KYAW SOE OO AND WA LONE WALKING TO COURT BUILDING WITH POLICE ESCORT IN THE RAIN MEDIA FILMING WIFE AND DAUGHTER OF KYAW SOE OO / KYAW SOE OO AND WA LONE WALKING PAST AND INTO COURT POLICE STANDING OUTSIDE COURT ROOM KYAW SOE OO AND WA LONE LEAVING COURT BUILDING (SOUNDBITE) (Burmese) REUTERS JOURNALIST, WA LONE, SAYING: "We didn't commit any crime. What I would like to say in relation to the court's decision today, is that we will not give up. The court's decision is not the decision that we are guilty. Even though we are charged, we are not guilty. We have an opportunity to defend (ourselves). In the upcoming sessions, we will testify to our innocence. We will not tremble before the charges laid on us." WA LONE WALKING AWAY SURROUNDED BY MEDIA Jailed Reuters reporter Wa Lone told a court in Myanmar on July 23 that documents he was accused of breaking state secrets laws to obtain were planted by a police officer, who handed him papers he had not sought in order to entrap him. The officer had then lied to the court about what happened, he said. YANGON, MYANMAR (FILE- JULY 23, 2018) (REUTERS) WA LONE (IN FRONT) AND KYAW SOE OO BEING ESCORTED BY POLICE TOWARDS COURTROOM WA LONE AND KYAW SOE OO WALKING INTO COURT EXTERIOR OF YANGON COURT A Myanmar judge on September 3 found two Reuters journalists guilty of breaching a law on state secrets and jailed them for seven years, in a landmark case seen as a test of progress towards democracy in the Southeast Asian country. Reuters' Asia Editor Kevin Krolicki called the verdict a "dark moment" for Myanmar, as Kyaw Soe Oo's wife, Chit Su Win, was seen leaving court with her family members in tears. YANGON, MYANMAR (FILE - SEPTEMBER 3, 2018) (REUTERS) WA LONE AND KYAW SOE OO ARRIVING, WALKING INTO COURT ROOM VARIOUS OF KYAW SOE OO'S RELATIVES, INCLUDING HIS WIFE CHIT SU WIN (FAR RIGHT), SITTING AND CRYING VARIOUS OF WA LONE LEAVING COURT AT END OF VERDICT VARIOUS OF KYAW SOE OO'S RELATIVES LEAVING, HIS WIFE CRYING Two Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar after they were convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act walked free from a prison on the outskirts of Yangon on May 7, 2019 after spending more than 500 days behind bars. Both journalists reunited with their families. YANGON, MYANMAR (FILE - MAY 7, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF WA LONE AND KYAW SOE OO WALKING AND CARRYING THEIR BELONGINGS WA LONE AND KYAW SOE OO BEING ESCORTED INTO CAR VARIOUS OF KYAW SOE OO AND WA LONE HUGGING AND KISSING THEIR WIVES AND DAUGHTERS FAMILIES OF KYAW SOE OO AND WA LONE POSING FOR PHOTOS
- Embargoed: 11th October 2019 10:35
- Keywords: Reuters journalists. journalists Official Secrets Act Wa Lone appeal verdict press freedom Kyaw Soe Oo jailed Reuters reporters children's book Myanmar press freedom Myanmar journalists reporters
- Location: YANGON, UNKNOWN LOCATIONS, MYANMAR / INTERNET / NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- City: YANGON, UNKNOWN LOCATIONS, MYANMAR / INTERNET / NEW YORK, UNITED STATES
- Country: Myanmar
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice,Judicial Process/Court Cases/Court Decisions
- Reuters ID: LVA00BAYGKEVB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who had been sentenced to seven years in jail on convictions under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act in September 2018 and later released, are among the possible contenders for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
The two were arrested in December 2017 while working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians in western Myanmar's Rakhine State.
The conviction of Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, in September last year sparked an outcry from diplomats and press freedom advocates, who said the jailing of two young reporters raised questions about Myanmar's progress toward democracy.
During more than 500 days behind bars, their reporting on a military crackdown in Rakhine State was recognised with international awards and they were named by Time magazine as its "Person of the Year" alongside other journalists last year.
The Nobel Peace Prize will be announced in Oslo on Friday, October 11 at 1100a.m (0900GMT).
Following are the profiles of the two journalists.
Wa Lone grew up in Kin Pyit, a village of some 400 households in the Shwe Bo district north of Mandalay, on Myanmar's dry central plain between the mighty Irrawaddy and Chindwin rivers.
One of five children, his parents were rice farmers and they had little money. His mother died from cancer when he was young.
But he was a good student, according to friends and family, and took a keen interest in news reporting from an early age.
In December 2010, having saved a little money, the brothers moved back to Yangon, where Wa Lone could pursue his boyhood dream. Living in North Okklapa township, near the city's airport, they re-established their photo services business, while Wa Lone also enrolled in a media training school and later began taking English classes.
Within five or six months Wa Lone had landed his first job in journalism on the weekly People's Age in Yangon, where his editor was Pe Myint - now Myanmar's Minister of Information.
In 2014, he joined the English-language daily, Myanmar Times, covering the historic 2015 general election that swept Nobel peace prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to power. The paper's former editor, Thomas Kean, says he felt he had to hire him when they met because he clearly cared deeply about journalism and was also thoughtful and articulate.
As well as providing a platform for him to excel as a journalist, the two years he spent at the Myanmar Times was a significant period in Wa Lone's personal life - it was there that he met his wife Pan Ei Mon who works in the paper's sales department. The couple married in April, 2017 and she gave birth to a girl on Aug 10, 2018. Wa Lone was detained for most of the time his wife was pregnant.
Despite the long hours chasing stories and studying, Wa Lone has still found time to write a children's book, The Gardener, a story in Burmese and English with an environmental message that draws on his own rural roots.
He co-founded The Third Story Project, a charitable foundation that produces and distributes stories that aim to promote tolerance between Myanmar's different ethnic groups, and is involved in projects working with orphans.
Many of his weekends off have been spent visiting poor rural villages -- much like the one where he grew up.
Wa Lone joined Reuters in July 2016 and quickly made his mark with in-depth stories on sensitive subjects including land grabs by the powerful military and the murder of prominent politician Ko Ni, as well as uncovering evidence of killings by soldiers in the northeast.
His reporting on the crisis that erupted in north-western Rakhine state in October 2016 won him a joint honourable mention from the Society of Publishers in Asia in its annual awards.
KYAW SOE OO
Family and friends of Kyaw Soe Oo say he has always had a love of writing, and composed poetry before becoming a journalist.
Min Min, the founder of the Root Investigative Agency, where Kyaw Soe Oo worked after starting his reporting career with the online Rakhine Development News, described the 29-year-old as "a joyful person" who had many friends.
An ethnic Rakhine Buddhist, Kyaw Soe Oo grew up in the state capital Sittwe, and was one of five siblings.
For Reuters, Kyaw Soe Oo worked on an investigative story about Myanmar's plan to harvest the crops of Rohingya farmers who fled to Bangladesh, and reported on how some Buddhists were enforcing local-level segregation in central Rakhine.
- Copyright Holder: FILE REUTERS (CAN SELL)
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None