Thirty parliamentarians, former government ministers, diplomats and lawyers from around the world issued an open letter yesterday calling for the immediate release of the two Burmese Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, jailed earlier this week for seven years.
The letter also calls for the release of all remaining political prisoners in Burma, the reform or repeal of unjust legislation, and international action to end impunity for crimes against humanity in Burma, including the referral of a case to the International Criminal Court, following the release of the United Nations International Independent Fact-Finding Mission report last week.
Signatories to the letter include:
Former British Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind
Former Cabinet minister Jonathan Aitken
Former Cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell MP,
United States Congressman Chris Smith
Thailand’s former Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya
Canada’s former Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific David Kilgour
Lord Alton of Liverpool
Rushanara Ali MP
Former Miss World Canada Anastasia Lin
Founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party Martin Lee
South Korea’s former Ambassador for Human Rights Jung-hoon Lee
Indian writer and activist John Dayal
Former United States Ambassador to Timor-Leste Grover Joseph Rees
Former chief prosecutor in the trial of Slobodan Milosevic Sir Geoffrey Nice QC
Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas.
Two former Chief Justices of the Constitutional Court in Indonesia, Professor Mahfud MD and Professor Jimly Asshiddiqie
The letter was also signed by members of parliament from Sweden, Canada, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines and Myanmar.
They describe the imprisonment of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo as “a grave miscarriage of justice which fundamentally undermines Burma’s fragile democratisation”. The reporters were, they argue, jailed simply for “doing their job of investigating and reporting atrocities committed by the military in Burma”. Freedom of the press, they continue, “is fundamental to democracy” and “the refusal to acknowledge the truth, the concerted efforts to hide the truth, and the imprisonment of two young men for reporting the truth are all indications that Burma is continuing in the ways of repression and lies favoured by past military regimes … No democracy can be built on such bloodshed and lies. It is Burma’s Generals, not its journalists, who should be on trial.”
Benedict Rogers, CSW’s East Asia Team Leader said: “We welcome this letter, which is signed by distinguished politicians, diplomats and lawyers from countries across Asia, Europe and North America, as a call for the immediate release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, along with all political prisoners in Burma, the reform or repeal of all unjust laws in Burma, and action to bring the perpetrators of crimes against humanity to justice and end impunity in Burma. We hope the Government of Burma, and the international community, listens to this appeal.”