Amal Clooney, who is representing two journalists from Reuters news agency sentenced to hard labor after they uncovered a military massacre, urged Myanmar leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Friday to immediately pardon the reporters and reverse a miscarriage of justice.
Amal Clooney, speaking at a press freedom event at the United Nations, sought to link the former iconic status of Suu Kyi as a human rights champion to the request for the release of Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, and Wa Lone, 32.
Amal Clooney said the reporters were arrested in an attempt by Myanmar to keep Reuters from publishing a story on the extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya men and boys. She noted that Suu Kyi had once “allowed young people to hope for a free Myanmar that respected the rule of law.”
“She knows that mass murder is not a state secret and that exposing it doesn’t turn a journalist into a spy,” Clooney said of Suu Kyi. “She has said that one political prisoner is one too many, and so we’re hopeful that since these are the principles that she herself has espoused, she will step in and try to correct an injustice in this case.”
She said the reporters’ wives wrote “a really heartfelt letter” to the government about a week ago pleading for a pardon, not because their husbands had done anything wrong, but because it would allow them to be released from prison.
Amal Clooney said Myanmar’s President Win Myint would make the decision to issue a pardon in consultation with Suu Kyi.
In a message to Suu Kyi, Amal Clooney told Reuters: “You fought for so many years to be freed from the same prison where they now sit and now you have the power to actually remedy this injustice today if you wanted to.”
The Myanmar mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay has said the court was independent and followed due process in the case.
The reporters pleaded not guilty and have been detained since December. Kyaw Soe Oo has a three-year-old daughter. Last month, Wa Lone’s wife gave birth to their first child, a girl, whom Clooney said Wa Lone has not yet met.
The reporters had been working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and local Buddhists in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state during an army crackdown that began in August last year. The operation sent nearly 700,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh.
A U.N mandated fact-finding mission said Myanmar’s military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent” and called for top generals to be prosecuted. Myanmar rejected the findings.
Suu Kyi said at a forum in Vietnam this month that the case had nothing to do with freedom of expression. She said the reporters had been sentenced for handling official secrets and “were not jailed because they were journalists.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier this month called on the Myanmar government to pardon and release the Reuters journalists as soon as possible.
The CPJ said a record 262 journalists were jailed worldwide in 2017, with Turkey, China, and Egypt responsible for imprisoning 134 of those journalists.
‘History will judge her on her response,’ Amal Clooney on Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi and jailed Reuters reporters
DATE AND TIME
Fri, September 28, 2018
11:00 AM – 12:30 PM EDT
United Nations Headquarters
Trusteeship Council (ECOSOC chamber)
New York, NY 10011
Journalists are being imprisoned at record numbers around the world. They are regularly threatened, attacked and killed, which undermines not only their own fundamental human rights, but also the public’s right to receive and impart information. The past two years have seen record numbers of journalists imprisoned for their work yet there has been little pushback and few countries have been held to account for their repressive and regressive practices. Countries undergoing ostensible transitions to democracy are chief among these.
The Committee to Protect Journalists will hold a panel discussion during the U.N. General Assembly to highlight global press freedom challenges, with an emphasis on Myanmar, Bangladesh, Egypt, and Kyrgyzstan as countries where journalists are imprisoned for their work and denied due process. The cases of Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are emblematic: they were set up by Myanmar police, falsely arrested, convicted under Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act, and sentenced to seven years of hard labor, all in a protracted effort to silence their truthful reporting.
Panel Event from Q&A 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
JOEL SIMON, Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists
AMAL CLOONEY, Barrister
STEPHEN J. ADLER, President and Editor-in-Chief of Reuters
This will be the first time that Ms. Clooney, who is representing Reuters and the two reporters, is speaking on the case. Mr. Adler will speak about Reuters’ perspectives on the case and how it impacts Reuters’ global newsroom.
Mr. Simon will discuss the cases of blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah and photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid who are imprisoned in Egypt; photojournalist Shahidul Alam, jailed in Bangladesh; and journalist Azimjon Askarov, who is serving a life sentence in Kyrgyzstan.
Amal Clooney wore a crepe wool dress by OSCAR DE LA RENTA from the resort collection 2019
Trompe L’oeil Short-Sleeve Popover Sheath Dress
The dress is available here
With a MICHAEL KORS
Bancroft tote bag
With JIMMY CHOO Imogen pumps
MAXIOR yellow gold earrings
And a beige coat perhaps by MAX MARA
Amal Clooney wore already similar colors for special human rights events.
Follow my account @Amal_Style1