Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney (pictured), who is representing the two Reuters reporters sentenced to seven years’ hard labour, has urged Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi to pardon them and reverse the miscarriage of justice.
Suu Kyi has little influence on the judiciary as the generals retain control of the Ministry of Home Affairs under the military-drafted 2008 constitution.
Clooney told the United Nations that Suu Kyi, as a Nobel peace laureate, should demand the release of Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, and Wa Lone, 32.
Clooney said the pair were arrested to stop Reuters from publishing a story about the extrajudicial killings of 10 Rohingya men and boys.
Suu Kyi had “allowed young people to hope for a free Myanmar that respected the rule of law”, the film star’s wife said.
“She knows that mass murder is not a state secret and that exposing it doesn’t turn a journalist into a spy,” Clooney told the event. “She has said that one political prisoner is one too many and so we’re hopeful that since these are the principles that she herself has espoused, she will step in and try to correct an injustice in this case.”
Suu Kyi continues to reject criticism over the show-trial conviction this month.
In another blow to her international standing, Canadian MPs have unanimously voted to strip Suu Kyi of her honorary citizenship over the Rohingya crisis. They also approved a motion of recognising the Rakhine State crackdown as genocide.
Suu Kyi received the honour from Ottawa in 2007 for enduring her prolonged period of house arrest.
The honour has been given to six others, including Nelson Mandela and posthumously to Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis.
“If you’re an accomplice of genocide, you won’t have honorary citizenship here,” said Gabriel Ste-Marie, a separatist Bloc Québécois MP who put the motion forward. He said the genocide “unfolded under the watchful eye of the de facto head of government: Aung San Suu Kyi”.
This remark exaggerates Suu Kyi’s role as the military retains controls of the border and defence ministries, giving her little influence over Rakhine operations.
The Canadian decision was made because of her “persistent refusal to denounce the Rohingya genocide”, said Adam Austen, a foreign ministry spokesman.
“We will continue to support the Rohingya by providing humanitarian assistance, imposing sanctions against Myanmar’s generals and demanding that those responsible be held accountable before a competent international body,” Austen told the media.
Last year, a refugee in Bangladesh said soldiers ripped her baby from her arms and flung him into a fire before raping her. She said the troops also killed her mother and three siblings.
The UN estimates that 10,000 Rohingya Muslims died in the military operations in Rakhine State, while the military-controlled authorities put the number at 50.
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney. Picture credit: Wikimedia