Published: Fri, September 14, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Aung San Suu Kyi defends imprisonment of Reuters journalists

Aung San Suu Kyi defends imprisonment of Reuters journalists

Myanmar's army is accused of mass rape, killings and setting fire to thousands of homes in the aftermath of an August 2017 attack by Rohingya militants on security outposts.

A United Nations fact-finding panel has called for Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and several other top generals to be prosecuted for genocide.

Challenging critics of the verdict - including the United Nations, rights groups who once lionized her and US Vice President Mike Pence - to "point out" where there has been a miscarriage of justice, Aung San Suu Kyi said the case upheld the rule of law.

Rohingya refugees take part in a protest at the Kutupalong refugee camp to mark the one-year anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, Aug. 25, 2018.

"We really want her to focus more on business, because this is a good opportunity to tell the world they should come to Myanmar and invest, especially in Rakhine State", U Htun Htun Naing, president of the Myanmar Young Entrepreneurs Association told Frontier.

"We have to be fair to all sides", Aung San Suu Kyi said. The rule of law was upheld and the pair will have a chance to appeal, she said. "We can not choose and pick who should be protected by the rule of law".

Also, Aung San Suu Kyi will not be attending the UN General Assembly session in early October, the 7Day Daily reported, citing an official. Government spokesman Zaw Htay declined to comment.

Many Rohingya are fearful of returning to Myanmar if their safety and rights can not be guaranteed.

Suu Kyi said the case had "nothing to do with freedom of expression" and Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, "were not jailed for being journalists".

"It had to do with an Official Secrets Act", Suu Kyi said Thursday.

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Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday robustly defended the jailing of two Reuters journalists for reporting massacres by the military at the height of the Rohingya ethnic cleansing. Seven Burmese soldiers have since been sentenced to ten years of hard labour for their role in the crime.

The case has been been widely condemned by global governments including Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. vice president Mike Pence.

"The case has been held in open court", Aung San Suu Kyi said.

In her first public comments on the case since the verdict, she said she doubted that anyone had "actually bothered to read" the judgment and called on critics to "point out where they think there has been a miscarriage of justice".

"They were not jailed because they were journalists".

Between the Rohingya crisis and the jailing of Reuters journalists, Myanmar's State Counselor is in an extraordinary bind.

Rep.Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaCongress losing faith in Nobel Prize victor Aung San Suu Kyi Sanders finds prime target in Amazon Purpose of Stop BEZOS Act is not to demonize Amazon, says Dem rep MORE (D-Calif.) has called for revoking Suu Kyi's Congressional Gold Medal, Congress's highest civilian honor.

The lawyers for the journalists have said they will do whatever they can to get their clients freed. But compelling evidence in the trial suggested the papers had been planted on them and that the men had been framed. Although Suu Kyi lacks command control over the armed forces, she has been criticized for not doing more to stop the carnage.

On the two Reuters journalists, she insisted that "the judgment has nothing to do with freedom of expression at all, it had to do with an Official Secrets Act", while adding that "they have every right to appeal the judgment and to point out why the judgment was wrong". She has faced intense worldwide criticism that contrasts with a decadeslong perception of her as a dissident hero resisting military rule.

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