Reuters says Myanmar held journalists for probing Rohingya massacre

Detained Myanmar journalist Kyaw Soe Oo, left, is escorted by police to a court in Yangon to face trial on February 6. (AFP)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Reuters says Myanmar held journalists for probing Rohingya massacre

BANGKOK: Two Reuters journalists detained for two months by Myanmar authorities were arrested over their investigation of a massacre of 10 Rohingya men, the news agency said in a report that detailed the grisly killings.
It is the first time Reuters has publicly confirmed what Myanmar nationals Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were working on when they were arrested on December 12 on the outskirts of Yangon.
The pair are now facing up to 14 years in prison on charges of possessing classified documents in violation of the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.
Their plight has sparked global alarm over withering press freedoms in Myanmar and government efforts to curb reporting in northern Rakhine state — a crisis-hit region where troops are accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims.
Nearly 700,000 Rohingya have fled the area since last August, carrying stories of atrocities at the hands of troops and vigilante groups in the Buddhist-majority country.
Myanmar authorities deny the allegations but have virtually cut off northern Rakhine, barring independent media from accessing the conflict-hit areas.
On Thursday Reuters published a report describing how Myanmar troops and Buddhist villagers executed 10 Rohingya men in Rakhine’s Inn Dinn village on September 2, 2017 before dumping their bodies into a mass grave.
“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.
The account was based on testimony from Buddhist villagers, security officers and relatives of the slain men.
It included graphic photographs of the victims, hands bound kneeling on the floor before the killing — and of their bodies in a pit after.
A month after the journalists’ arrests, Myanmar’s army issued a rare statement admitting that security forces took part in extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya “terrorists” in Inn Din village.
The Reuters report said witnesses denied there had been any major attack from Rohingya militants before the alleged massacre.
A Myanmar government spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment.
But Myanmar vehemently denies systematic abuses by its security officers, despite a mounting volume of evidence pointing to atrocities.
Judges have denied bail to the two reporters during a pre-trial hearing period, despite calls for their release from human rights groups and diplomats around the globe.
The next hearing is scheduled for February 14.


Facebook’s Zuckerberg agrees to live-stream EU parliament hearing

Updated 21 May 2018
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Facebook’s Zuckerberg agrees to live-stream EU parliament hearing

BRUSSELS: Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to live-stream his meeting with European Parliament members as he answers questions in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a top official said Monday.
The meeting on Tuesday with the parliament’s most senior members was initially set to be held behind closed doors.
But influential MEPs had pushed for a public hearing following the worst crisis in Facebook’s history.
“I have personally discussed with Facebook CEO Mr.Zuckerberg the possibilty of webstreaming meeting with him,” the parliament’s leader Antonio Tajani wrote on Twitter.
“I am glad to announce that he has accepted this new request. Great news for EU citizens,” he added.
Tajani had invited Zuckerberg, saying the 2.7 million EU citizens affected by the data sharing scandal deserved a full explanation.
The visit comes as the EU is introducing tough new data protection rules later this month, which Facebook has said it will comply with.
Facebook admitted earlier this month that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.
The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect on May 25, aims to give users more control over how their personal information is stored and used online, with big fines for firms that break the rules.
Zuckerberg, who has repeatedly apologized for the massive data breach, told the US Congress in April that the more stringent EU rules could serve as a rough model globally.
The European Parliament hearing will run from 6:15 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (1615 GMT to 1730 GMT) on Tuesday.
Tajani will also hold a private meeting with Zuckerberg the same day, a spokesman for the parliamentary chief told AFP.
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