Reuters says Myanmar detained its journalists over Rohingya massacre probe | News | DW | 09.02.2018
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Reuters says Myanmar detained its journalists over Rohingya massacre probe

Reuters news agency has published a report by two arrested reporters on the massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. The news agency says they were arrested because of their investigation and called for their release.

Two Reuters journalists currently in detention in Myanmar were arrested by authorities there because they were investigating a mass execution of minority Rohingya Muslims in the country's Rakhine state, the news agency has said.

Their report, which was released on Friday, details events surrounding the massacre, in which 10 Rohingya men from Inn Din village were hacked to death or shot by Buddhist neighbors or soldiers in September 2017.

It contains graphic pictures of the victims before and after the massacre, along with interviews with Buddhists who admitted to setting Rohingya homes on fire and killing Muslims after Rohingya insurgents attacked security posts last August.

It is the first time that Reuters has publicly confirmed what the two journalists, Myanmar nationals Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were working on at the time of their arrest two months ago.

"The Reuters investigation of the Inn Din massacre was what prompted Myanmar police authorities to arrest two of the news agency's reporters," the report said, and called for their release.

Read more:Myanmar's Rohingya: A history of forced exoduses 

Alleged ethnic cleansing

The two men face up to 14 years in prison on charges under a colonial-era Official Secrets Act of possessing classified documents. Their next hearing is scheduled for February 14.

Human rights groups and diplomats from around the world have also called for their release, but the two have been denied bail.

A month after the journalists were detained, Myanmar's army issued a rare statement taking responsibility for the deaths but claimed that those killed were "Bengali terrorists," reflecting the regime's official stance that the Rohingya are interlopers from neighboring Bangladesh.

The Myanmar government has faced international accusations of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign in Rakhine, with nearly 700,000 Rohingya fleeing the area since last August amid reports of atrocities committed by troops and vigilante groups.

 Rohingya refugees (picture-alliance/abaca)

Thousands of Rohingya have fled to neigboring Bangladesh

However, Myanmar authorities have denied that they are carrying out ethnic cleansing in Rakhine state, speaking instead of a "clearance operation" that is a legitimate response to insurgent attacks.

The country's de facto leader, Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, has faced international condemnation for her apparent inaction in the face of the widely alleged reports of atrocities committed against the Rohingya, which the United Nations says might amount to genocide.

tj/msh (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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