Who are Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo?
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are a pair of young Reuters journalists who were imprisoned by the government of Myanmar while reporting on the killings of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, crimes the United Nations has called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
"For documenting the deaths of 10 minority Rohingya Muslims, Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone got seven years," TIME reported. "The killers they exposed were sentenced to 10."
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According to Al Jazeera, the Rohingya Muslims in the Buddhist nation of Myanmar have been described as the "world's most persecuted minority," and have faced systematic persecution since Myanmar's independence in the late 1940s. There, they are denied citizenship and reportedly face an array of human rights abuses.
Since August 2017, large-scale military crackdowns against the Rohingya have resulted in mass killings, sexual violence and other “crimes against humanity,” according to the Human Rights Watch. More than 671,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Rakhine State to escape.
Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, grew up Buddhist in Rakhine State but advocated against discrimination. The poet-turned-journalist joined Reuters in 2017 and began working with 32-year-old Buddhist reporter Wa-Lone, who also hails from the region.
The pair covered the unimaginable magnitude of the transfer of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya across the border to neighboring Bangladesh. Their work has resulted in multiple accolades, including Investigation of the Year at the British Journalism Awards, the James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism and the coveted Don Bolles Medal from the IRE.
While investigating the massacre of 10 Rohingya men and boys in December 2017, Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone were invited to dinner by an officer involved in the executions.
» RELATED: Rohingya living in 'no man's land' insist they will stay
Moments after finishing their meal, the police gave the men “some papers, discreetly wrapped in a newspaper.” Before they could even read them, they said, the reporters were arrested for possession of the documents and face up to seven years in prison.
After being detained, Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone were "held at an undisclosed location without contact with families or lawyers for two weeks," according to Reuters.
Two-hundred-and-sixty-five days in prison later, they were sentenced to seven years for violating the 1923 Official Secrets Act and “illegally acquir[ing] information with the intention to share it with foreign media.”
With the two men still behind bars, TIME photographed their wives for the cover, seen embracing each other with photos of their husbands.
“Where is the justice to sentencing two journalists to seven years in prison just for doing their jobs?” Kyaw Soe Oo’s wife, Chit Su Win, asked the magazine.
An appeal hearing is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 24.
“I ask the leaders of the government to please, please have mercy on them,” Wa Lone’s wife, Pan Ei Mon, said.
Read more about their story at time.com.