Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Reuters journalists who have now spent a year in jail after exposing a massacre committed by the Myanmar military, were honored by Time Magazine today with its “Person of the Year” award, which was jointly granted to a group of journalists they dubbed “the Guardians” in the “War on Truth.”
The others honored in the magazine’s annual edition are Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the staff of Maryland newspaper the Capital Gazette.
Time has released four different covers, honoring the four different “members” that make up 2018’s Person of the Year.
In the cover featuring Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, their wives, Pan Ei Mon and Chit Su Win, are seen carrying portraits of the two journalists.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the pair’s arrest in a northern Yangon restaurant in a set-up by police while they were investigating the massacre of 10 unarmed Rohingya men in Northern Rakhine State in the coastal village of Inn Din.
While the Myanmar government maintains that their imprisonment is because they violated the Official Secrets Act, conflicting testimony from a former police chief, one actually present at the massacre, pointed strongly to evidence of a set-up
In a statement, Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler said: “The fact that they remain in prison for a crime they did not commit calls into question Myanmar’s commitment to democracy, freedom of expression and rule of law. Every day they continue to be behind bars is a missed opportunity for Myanmar to stand up for justice.”
Amal Clooney, barrister and counsel to Reuters, also highlighted the circumstances that have kept them behind bars for exactly a year.
“It has been a year since my clients, two courageous journalists, were falsely imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. For twelve long months, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been torn apart from their wives and baby daughters – simply because they reported the news,” she said in a statement to Reuters.
Protestors in Yangon will today mark the anniversary of the duo’s arrest at a rally in front of Yangon City Hall.
Reuters has invited people from around the world to post photos on social media of the “thumbs up” gesture, a symbol of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity.