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Aung San Suu Kyi on the scene

The Reuters journalists convicted and jailed for seven years got Aung San Suu Kyi’s defence. But the two Myanmar Journalists got no reprieve. The Court decided that they had infringed the Official Secrets Act. The two journalists had investigated a story of how the Myanmarese army had lined up 10 Rohingya men, tied them to each other and got villagers to dig up graves for them. The army had admitted it had done it. The soldiers responsible were punished but the two journalists were convicted of exposing the official secret. Myanmar does not enjoy full democracy. Power rests with the military. Suu Kyi has to walk a tight rope because of her foreign connections. She is highly revered in her country and has a massive mandate. But the Junta still holds constitutional power. As in Pakistan, in Myanmar also the army cracks the whip in the battle with civilians. In Myanmar, the military is very unpopular. Civilian leaders are more acceptable. Suu Kyi is de-facto head of the government. But her voice is often muted.

In fact Suu Kyi has been derided for not standing up for the Rohingyas who face the grossest violation of human rights in the human history of the 21st century.  Increasingly, people of nowhere land or country are being subjected to great atrocities and stripped of their human dignity, whether that be in Myanmar or the USA. The picture of children kept apart from their parents in the Mexico border still haunt and raised a hue and cry against President Donald Trump. The whole world spoke up for those kids separated by the state from their parents. But few voices were raised in support of the rights of the Rohingyas. The world has now come to a point where borders that separate nation states have also created inhuman situations. Syrian refugees fleeing the atrocities of the civil war in their country face a similar fate as the Rohingyas.  There are also climate refugees who are forced to move before their country sinks into the sea. It’s a troubled world out there!

Coming back to media freedom, in Myanmar Since 2015, the media is waging a losing battle for freedom of the press. Yet a huge number of journalists have been penalised in the last few years. The two Reuters journalists may be set free by a presidential pardon. But that does not change the situation. Meanwhile citizenship for the Rohingyas still hangs in the balance.

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