Tue, 16 Jul 2019

Myanmar de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi has defended her country against criticism of last week's conviction of two Reuters journalists on charges of violating the country's colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

Act. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested last December after meeting with two police officers at a restaurant in Yangon and given a stack of documents. They were investigating the massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslims by police and soldiers in the village of Inn Din last year.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi, Aung Suu Kyi urged anyone who has criticized the verdict and called for the journalists release, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, to 'point out' if there has been a miscarriage of justice.

The two journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison.

She also said her government could have handled the situation with the Rohingya Muslims differently.

Rohingya refugees take part in a protest at the Kutupalong refugee camp to mark the one-year anniversary of their exodus from Myanmar, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, Aug. 25, 2018.

​Aung San Suu Kyi's reputation as an icon of democracy and human rights, earned during her years of detention by Myanmar's former military regime, has been damaged over her failure to speak out against the brutal military campaign in Rakhine state that has driven nearly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims across the border into Bangladesh since last August. The United Nations and United States have collected numerous eyewitness accounts of atrocities committed by government forces, including gang rapes, the torching of entire villages and extrajudicial killings.

The U.N. has called the military campaign a 'textbook example' of ethnic cleansing, and has called for General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief of Myanmar's army, and five other generals, to be tried for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Aung San Suu Kyi told the audience in Hanoi that 'with hindsight I think the situation could have been handled better,' but said authorities cannot 'choose and pick' who would be covered by the rule of law.

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