Reuters demands Myanmar release its 2 journalists

Reuters journalists Wa Lone, left, and Kyaw Soe Oo, were supposedly arrested by government agents after collecting “information and important secret papers related to the security forces.” (Reuters)
Updated 14 December 2017
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Reuters demands Myanmar release its 2 journalists

BANGKOK: Reuters news agency called on Myanmar to immediately release its two journalists who were arrested for possessing “important secret papers” obtained from two policemen who had worked in Rakhine state, where violence widely blamed on security forces has forced more than 625,000 minority Rohingya Muslims to flee into neighboring Bangladesh.
The Ministry of Information said Wednesday the journalists and policemen will be charged under the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries penalties of up to 14 years in prison.
Reuters said Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been missing since late Tuesday night.
“Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been reporting on events of global importance in Myanmar, and we learned today that they have been arrested in connection with their work,” Stephen J. Adler, president and editor In chief of Reuters, said in a statement.
“We are outraged by this blatant attack on press freedom. We call for authorities to release them immediately,” he said.
The ministry posted a photo of the two journalists in handcuffs, standing behind a table bearing documents, cellphones and currency. It said they had collected “information and important secret papers related to the security forces” from the policemen, who had earlier worked in Rakhine but were now in Yangon, the country’s largest city.
“When we saw that photo of them, it broke our hearts that their picture was taken like they’re criminals,” said War Lay, a sister of Kyaw Soe Oo. “He was just doing his job as a journalist and we hope that they will be released soon.”
Rakhine state is the epicenter of the Myanmar military’s brutal security operation against Rohingya Muslims. The campaign, launched in August in response to attacks on police outposts, has been condemned by the United Nations as “ethnic cleansing” and those fleeing have described widespread rights abuses by security forces. The military, which is charge of security in northern Rakhine, and the civilian government have barred most journalists and international observers from independently traveling to the region.
Shawn Crispin, a senior representative for the Committee to Protect Journalists, also called on Myanmar authorities to “to immediately, unconditionally release” the journalists.
“These arrests come amid a widening crackdown which is having a grave impact on the ability of journalists to cover a story of vital global importance,” he said.
The Foreign Correspondents Club of Myanmar said it was “deeply shocked” with news of the arrests and “gravely concerned with the state of press freedom in Myanmar as the journalists were detained while carrying out their journalistic work.” It also called on authorities to allow their families to meet them as soon as possible.
The US Embassy said it was “deeply concerned by the highly irregular arrests of two Reuters reporters.”
“For a democracy to succeed, journalists need to be able to do their jobs freely,” it said in a statement. “We urge the government to explain these arrests and allow immediate access to the journalists.”
Journalists in Myanmar are facing renewed harassment, with several arrested in recent months. Two foreign journalists along with two of their Myanmar associates are currently awaiting trial on new charges after already being sentenced to jail for illegally flying a drone over parliament.
“Media freedom in the country is getting worse and arresting journalists is more and more common these days, and this shows that the authorities are clearly ignoring media laws,” said Robert Sann Aung, a human rights lawyer.


Facebook dating service rolling out in Colombia

Updated 22 September 2018
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Facebook dating service rolling out in Colombia

  • Colombians are particularly avid fans of using social networks and websites to find partners
  • The service is programmed not to link up people who are already connected as family or friends

BOGOTA: Facebook said Friday a dating service it teased early this year is being rolled out in Colombia.
The social media giant chose the Latin American country as its test lab because Colombians are particularly avid fans of using social networks and websites to find partners.
The new feature, rolled out in Colombia this week, allows users to create a separate “dating” profile not visible to their network of friends, with potential matches recommended based on preferences and common interests.
The service is programmed not to link up people who are already connected as family or friends, and users of Facebook Dating will also be able to block people if they wish.
A basic chat service will be available, and the site will bar strangers from sending photos, videos or links.
Some 21 million people log in to Facebook every day in Colombia, a country of 50 million people, according to the company.
“We view this as an incredible opportunity to continue helping people build relationships in meaningful ways on Facebook,” said Facebook Dating product manager Nathan Sharp.
Facebook’s chief Mark Zuckerberg in May announced plans for the new dating feature at the world’s leading online social network — while vowing to make privacy protection its top priority in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Zuckerberg was emphatic that the focus would be on helping people find partners, not flings.
“This is going to be for building real, long-term relationships, not just hookups,” Zuckerberg said in presenting the new feature.
He said the dating offer was built with privacy and safety in mind.
Facebook faced intense global scrutiny over the mass harvesting of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy that worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.
The company has admitted up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked in the scandal.