Myanmar court remands Reuters journalists for 2 more weeks

Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, pose for a picture at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar December 11, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 27 December 2017
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Myanmar court remands Reuters journalists for 2 more weeks

YANGON: The detention of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar was extended for two more weeks, a court said Wednesday, in the pair’s first public appearance since their December 12 arrest under a draconian colonial-era secrecy law.
Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27 — Myanmar nationals who had been reporting on a military-led crackdown on Rohingya Muslims — were arrested after being invited to meet police for dinner on the outskirts of Yangon.
They face up to 14 years in jail under the Official Secrets Act for allegedly possessing documents related to the army crackdown in Rakhine state — a highly sensitive issue in Myanmar.
The UN says the army is likely guilty of ethnic cleansing and may have committed genocide against the Muslim minority, some 655,000 of whom have fled the country since the military launched a crackdown on Rohingya rebels in late August.
Myanmar denies the allegations and has tightly controlled media and UN access to the conflict area.
Myanmar officials have refused to comment on where the Reuters journalists were being detained or when they would be released.
On Wednesday, the pair appeared in public for the first time in a court on the outskirts of Yangon, where they were embraced by tearful relatives who have been denied any contact with the two men.
“They have not mistreated me,” Wa Lone told AFP inside the courthouse.
The other reporter, Kyaw Soe Oo, urged other journalists to be cautious in brief comments to AFP.
“Please tell journalist friends to be careful. It’s really scary. We didn’t do anything wrong,” he said.
Judge Ohn Myint extended their remand period until January 10, telling the court “the interrogation is still ongoing.”
The arrests have been widely condemned as the latest sign of eroding press freedoms in Myanmar, which is still shedding a 50-year legacy of brutal junta rule.
The emerging democracy is now led by former democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, who was swept into office in the 2015 elections.
But her civilian administration must share power with an army that retains firm control of security policy and other key levers of government.
At least 11 journalists have been arrested in Myanmar in 2017.


HBO website and comedian John Oliver censored in China

Updated 24 June 2018
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HBO website and comedian John Oliver censored in China

  • After mocking censors working over time to delete comparisons of President Xi Jinping with the cartoon bear, comedian John Oliver and now the website of TV giant HBO have fallen victim to China’s censorship machine
  • HBO joins a long list of Western media outlets that have had their websites blocked in China including The New York Times, Facebook, and Twitter

BEIJING: It was one Winnie the Pooh joke too far.
After mocking censors working over time to delete comparisons of President Xi Jinping with the cartoon bear, comedian John Oliver and now the website of TV giant HBO have fallen victim to China’s censorship machine.
Chinese authorities blocked HBO’s website in China, just days after Oliver took Xi to task, anti-censorship and monitoring group GreatFire.org said on Saturday.
HBO joins a long list of Western media outlets that have had their websites blocked in China including The New York Times, Facebook, and Twitter.
“China: the country responsible for huge technological advances but it still can’t seem to get pandas to f***,” Oliver opened the episode of “Last Week Tonight” that is causing the problems.
Those technological advances include draconian surveillance and censorship measures which appear to have made HBO and Oliver their latest victims.
Oliver’s name and that of the show he hosts were censored on China’s popular twitter like Weibo.
“Send failure” Weibo returned when AFP attempted to post Oliver’s name.
“Content is illegal!” the service said.
YouTube, which also airs “Last Week Tonight,” has long been blocked in China.
Oliver’s segment dug into Xi’s distaste at comparisons to the self-described “bear of very little brain” and introduced viewers to repressive changes underway in the world’s most populous country.
Chinese netizens have often compared Xi to A.A. Milne’s most famous creation, something that censors have been quick to purge inside the Great Firewall.
The segment also recounted recent headlines: from Xi becoming “emperor for life” to a corruption purge that targeted his political rivals, to a crackdown on freedom of expression, human rights, and religion, to an ongoing suppression and imprisonment campaign against China’s Uighur ethnic minority.
“Xi is actively removing the post-Mao guardrails that were put in place,” Oliver said of changes to China’s constitution which allow him to remain in power indefinitely.
“China is becoming more authoritarian just as it has major plans for expansion onto the world stage,” Oliver said as the segment neared an end.
“The era of do as we say may be dawning.”