Seven Myanmar soldiers sentenced to 10 years for Rohingya massacre

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The murders were part of a larger military crackdown on the Rohingya, that began in response to insurgent attacks on security forces in August and has since prompted nearly 700,000 Muslims to flee to Bangladesh amid allegations of mass murder, rape and arson.

The government rejects the allegations and says it was defending itself against attacks from the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, which occurred on August 25.

The two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were detained on the outskirts of Yangon on 12 December after dining with a pair of police officers in Mingalardon Township. In a rare admission of wrongdoing, the army said the soldiers in question had confessed to killing the men and burying them in a mass grave in the village of Inn Din.

Myanmar has faced global condemnation and accusations of extrajudicial killings, ethnic cleansing and genocide as some 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Rakhine for Bangladesh following a military crackdown on insurgents.


The two journalists were arrested after they were invited to meet police officers for dinner in the north of Yangon.

The army has claimed the Rohingya men were terrorists, but has not presented any evidence to back up the claim.

Wa Lone's wife Pan Ei Mon said despite her husband urging her not to expect what would have been a dramatic court decision on Wednesday to release him and his colleague from custody, she had been optimistic.

A court in Yangon has been holding preliminary hearings since January to decide whether the two Reuters reporters will be charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.


At that same prior hearing, lead prosecutor Kyaw Min Aung countered that the defendants had been found in possession of secret government documents, that by obtaining them the journalists posed a threat to state security and the national interest, and that as such the defence's motion for a dismissal should be rejected. "Three soldiers of other rank were demoted to the rank of "private", permanently dismissed from the military and sentenced to 10 years with hard labor at a prison in a remote area", read the military statement. Last month Reuters announced that prominent rights attorney Amal Clooney had joined the legal team.

"There has been an alarming erosion in press freedom in Myanmar where media workers continue to face threats, intimidation and even jail time simply for doing their jobs".

"We believe that there are solid grounds for the court to dismiss this matter and to release our journalists", Adler said in a statement.

"His country may want to show the global leaders that they are honest to repatriate".


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