Families of jailed Myanmar reporters appeal for release

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Myanmar's Leader Aung San Suu Kyi smiles while she delivers a speech in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on Aug. 27, 2018 and Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo's wife, Chit Suu Win, and daughter, Moe Thin Wai Zan, react after listening to the verdict at Insein court in Yangon, Myanmar on September 3, 2018. (AP, REUTERS)
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Chit Suu Win, wife of Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo, reacts after listening to the the verdict at Insein court in Yangon, Myanmar on September 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
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Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo's wife, Chit Suu Win, and daughter, Moe Thin Wai Zan, leave the court after listening to the verdict in Yangon, Myanmar, September 3, 2018. (REUTERS)
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Pan Ei Mon (L) and Chit Su Win (R), wives of detained Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, attend a press conference in Yangon on September 4, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 05 September 2018
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Families of jailed Myanmar reporters appeal for release

  • Journalists Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were arrested while reporting on atrocities committed during the violent expulsion by the military of some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims
  • Lawyers for the pair will appeal the verdict while ultimately the country’s president, a close ally of Suu Kyi, can pardon prisoners

YANGON: The wives of two Reuters journalists in Myanmar jailed for seven years on official secrets charges insisted on Tuesday the men were innocent and called for them to be released and reunited with their young families as soon as possible.
A court found the two journalists guilty on Monday in a landmark case seen as a test of progress toward democracy in Myanmar, which was ruled by a military junta until 2011. Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were investigating the killing of villagers from the Rohingya Muslim minority by security forces and civilians in Rakhine State when they were arrested in December. They had pleaded not guilty. The two reporters both have young daughters and have not seen their families outside of prison visits and court hearings since they were arrested in December. Kyaw Soe Oo has a three-year-old daughter, and Wa Lone’s wife, Pan Ei Mon, gave birth to their first child last month.
The wives, alongside Wa Lone’s brother, Thura Aung, and their defense lawyers, spoke to reporters at a news conference in Yangon on Tuesday.
The defense can appeal the conviction, and the lawyers told the news conference they were considering all options. Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife, Chit Su Win, said she had expected the two reporters to be acquitted on Monday. “I believed that we would be able to go home together,” she said, adding that later she “almost went crazy.”
“They are innocent. They were doing their jobs as journalists,” Chit Su Win said, She said she feared their daughter, Moe Thin Wai Zan, would be traumatized by the ordeal.
Wa Lone’s wife, Pan Ei Mon, said she wanted the journalists to be released “as quickly as possible.” “I never thought such a harsh verdict would be handed down,” she said of the seven-year sentence. “Since I became pregnant, I stayed strong on the hope that Wa Lone would be released. After yesterday’s verdict, if feels like my hopes have been destroyed.” Pan Ei Mon said she was disappointed that Myanmar’s government leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, had appeared to speak against the reporters ahead of the verdict. Suu Kyi told Japanese television station NHK in an interview in June that the reporters were not arrested for their reporting on Rakhine, but because they “broke the Official Secrets Act.” “I am really sad about that...the person who we really admired for our whole lives misunderstood us like that,” Pan Ei Mon said.
Neither Suu Kyi nor her government’s main spokesman have commented publicly on the case since the reporters were convicted.


Thousands of protesters try to storm Georgia parliament

Updated 2 min 45 sec ago
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Thousands of protesters try to storm Georgia parliament

  • Tens of thousands rallied in Tbilisi, demanding speaker Irakli Kobakhidze step down after a Russian lawmaker addressed the country’s parliament from the speaker’s seat
  • The Russian MP’s presence in Georgia’s parliament prompted outrage in the ex-Soviet nation which in 2008 fought and lost a brief but bloody war with Moscow

TBILISI: Thousands of protesters attempted Thursday to storm the Georgian parliament in Tbilisi, furious that a Russian lawmaker addressed the assembly from the speaker’s seat during an international event.
Demanding that the parliamentary speaker resign, about 10,000 protesters broke riot police cordons to enter the parliament courtyard, an AFP reporter witnessed. Police pushed them back, but several protesters continued trying to enter the building.
Earlier, tens of thousands rallied in central Tbilisi, demanding speaker Irakli Kobakhidze step down after a Russian lawmaker controversially addressed the country’s parliament from the speaker’s seat.
Russian Communist lawmaker Sergei Gavrilov was speaking during an annual meeting of the Inter-parliamentary Assembly on Orthodoxy (IAO), a forum of lawmakers from predominantly Orthodox countries.
The Russian MP’s presence in fiercely pro-Western Georgia’s parliament prompted outrage in the ex-Soviet nation which in 2008 fought and lost a brief but bloody war with Moscow over breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
A group of Georgian opposition lawmakers demanded the Russian delegation leave the parliament’s plenary chamber.
Many protesters held Georgian and EU flags and placards that read “Russia is an occupier.”
“This is a spontaneous protest by ordinary Georgians, it has not been organized by any political party,” an MP from opposition European Georgia party, Giga Bokeria, told AFP at the rally.
Georgian oligarch Bidzina Ivanishvili — widely believed to be calling the shots in Georgia as the leader of his ruling Georgian Dream party — said in a statement that he “fully shares the sincere outrage of the Georgian citizens.”
He added that he told the speaker to suspend the session.
“It is unacceptable that a representative of the occupier country chairs a forum in the Georgian parliament,” Ivanishvili said.