European Union calls for release of reuters journalists charged in Myanmar

European Union calls for release of reuters journalists charged in Myanmar”

Myanmar prosecutors have sought charges against two Reuters reporters under the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years, the reporters' lawyer said.

Myanmar refers to members of the persecuted Rohingya, a mostly Muslim minority, as Bengalis.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and other government officials internationally have also called for the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

Ethnic tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in Rakhine have led to military intervention, bloodshed and the outflow of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh.

"It's not as though there are human remains lying around everywhere", said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. In a report, United Nations investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity.

Zin Mar Aung, an NLD parliamentarian who spent 11 years as a political prisoner, told VOA it would be hard, in practice, for the civilian government to halt the proceedings against the journalists.

On December 18, 2017, the Myanmar Army had appointed a senior officer to investigate reports of a mass grave found at the coast village of Inn Din.

In a statement released Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar said the "disappointed by today's decision". "The Rohingya portion of the village has been completely burned to the ground, whereas non-Rohningya buildings very nearby have been completely untouched".

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In a statement on Facebook, Myanmar's military commander, Min Aung Hlaing, said the slain Rohingya were "Bengali terrorists" who were part of a larger group of 200 that attacked Myanmese soldiers with sticks and swords a year ago.

In its account of the Inn Din massacre the army chief's office said security forces captured 10 Rohingya militants before killing them as violence engulfed the village and its surrounding area.

Angry ethnic Rakhine Buddhist villagers, who had lost relatives in militant attacks, wanted to kill the captives, and stabbed them after forcing them into a grave on the outskirts of the village. The use of the term "Bengali" is the commonly used term for Rohingya in Burma as it implies they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, despite them living in Burma for generations.

She stressed that the UNICEF stood ready to work with the Myanmar government and Rakhine state authorities to provide humanitarian relief to all children-regardless of ethnicity, religion, or status-but needed unlimited access. It has estimated that 400 Rohingya died previous year, but said that 376 of them were terrorists involved in an armed insurgency.

The European Union in Myanmar said the killings confirm the need for a thorough and credible investigation into all violence incidents in northern Rakhine state "to ensure the accountability of those found responsible for committing atrocities".

"This grisly admission is a sharp departure from the army's policy of blanket denial of any wrongdoing", James Gomez, Amnesty International's regional director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement.

"We view this as a wholly unwarranted, blatant attack on press freedom", he said in a statement on Wednesday.

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