US Calls on Myanmar to Release Reuters Journalists

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Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were returned after the hearing in Rangoon to the notorious Insein Prison, where they have spent close to a month.

While the United States and the United Nations have called the campaign against the Rohingya ethnic cleansing, the Myanmar government has blocked independent investigators and journalists from the epicenter of violence, making it hard to gather proof of atrocities.

Lawyer U Than Zaw Aung asked the judge why the two police officers who handed the documents to the journalists were not in court. "In the interim, they need to be recognised first and foremost as children", she said, stressing that the Convention on the Rights of the Child guarantees rights to health, education and opportunities to learn and grow to all children, irrespective of their ethnicity or status or the circumstances in which they find themselves.

"After the dinner, [the Reuters journalists] were arrested".

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Myanmar prosecutors on Wednesday formally charged the two journalists, signaling the case will go forward despite global condemnation, according to a report by the Associated Press. "I want to tell you that that they are charging us like this to stop us finding the truth. Their actions are wrong and unfair". "We believe time is of the essence and we continue to call for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo's prompt release", he added. For democracy to succeed and flourish, journalists must be able to do their jobs.

Earlier in the week, former President Bill Clinton lent his political capital to the calls for their release, tweeting Monday that "a free press is critical to a free society - the detention of journalists anywhere is unacceptable".

More than 655,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine since August in the largest movement of a civilian population in Asia in decades, creating a humanitarian emergency in squalid refugee camps in Bangladesh.

"ARSA has.no other option but to combat "Burmese state-sponsored terrorism" against the Rohingya population for the goal of defending, salvaging and protecting the Rohingya community", the group said in a statement signed by leader Ata Ullah and posted on Twitter.

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The controversy over press freedoms is unfolding against a backdrop of what the United Nations calls a "major upsurge of violence" against the Rohingya in Rakhine state. The UN Human Rights Council has condemned alleged systematic and gross violations of the Rohingyas' human rights.

A statement Wednesday on the military commander-in-chief's Facebook page said the Rohingya found in the mass grave had threatened Buddhist villagers and were killed in retaliation.

"The two journalists were engaged in normal reporting activities, and had not committed any wrongdoing". In the meantime, the worldwide condemnations are unlikely to slow.

The two journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, are due in court tomorrow. "And by targeting a high-profile news organization like Reuters, it shows no journalist is safe to report on sensitive stories in Myanmar". "These charges should be dropped now before any more damage is done".

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