Myanmar: Reuters journalists must be released

Kyaw Soe Oo second left and Wa Lone front right leave court in Rangoon today

Myanmar Army investigation panel has determined that villagers and security forces killed 10 Rohingya allegedly affiliated with Muslim militants who launched a series of attacks on security outposts in northern Maungdaw previous year.

The two journalists stand accused of receiving documents illegally.

The two police officers, who just came back from Rakhine State after serving security duties in Maungdaw and Buthidaung townships, were also arrested and are facing the same charges as the two journalists.

"They [BNP] were in a direct fight with Malaysia", Alam said, adding that "these foolish initiatives are never going to help in your relations with countries". In one of its firmest statements yet, the 28-nation bloc, which is a significant donor to Myanmar, said that the case of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo was an important test for the country's commitment to developing democracy after years of military rule.

Wa Lone became a Reuters journalist in 2016.

Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were detained on December 12 after they had been invited to meet police officers over dinner.

With financial assistance from the World Bank, the Myanmar government has purchased more than 1,000 waterproof tents that can each hold 10 people, he said.

Reuters' editor-in-chief, Stephen J. Adler, called the move "a wholly unwarranted, blatant attack on press freedom".

The two journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, are due in court tomorrow.

"ARSA has ... no other option but to combat "Burmese state-sponsored terrorism" against the Rohingya population for the objective of defending, salvaging and protecting the Rohingya community", the group said in a statement signed by leader Ata Ullah and posted on Twitter. "Our colleagues should be allowed to return to their jobs reporting on events in Myanmar".

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Government spokesman Zaw Htay declined to comment on the charges but said the two had their rights under an independent judicial system.

"The judge will decide whether they are guilty or not according to the law", he told Reuters.

"The United States is deeply disappointed by today's court decision", the State Department said Wednesday as it reiterated that call.

The United Nations and United States have said that the campaign amounted to ethnic cleansing, while others have suggested that the military's actions may constitute genocide.

Authorities have largely banned media from the conflict zone.

Though Myanmar has almost completed housing for 5,000 returning Rohingya Muslim refugees, officials are still waiting for Bangladesh to send lists of those who are eligible for repatriation slated to begin later this month, government officials said Wednesday.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said last month Canada was "deeply concerned" over their detention. "It is indeed very disappointing that an old draconian law from the colonial era is being used by a democratically elected government to suppress press freedom".

The Myanmar government has pledged to fight back against ARSA on Monday after the group issued a statement claiming responsibility for the ambush.

Suu Kyi won a 2015 election and formed a government in early 2016, although she is barred by the constitution from becoming president.

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