Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, currently detained in Myanmar, were honored on Tuesday with the PEN America 2018 Barbey Freedom to Write Award. The PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award recognizes an imprisoned writer targeted for exercising freedom of speech. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been detained in Myanmar since December 12 and are accused of violating the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act.
Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler told Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian (here) the two men “embody the principles that PEN America champions. Their investigation into the Inn Din massacre illustrates both the vital importance of the freedom to write and the incredible power of the written word."
PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel said: “Ethnic violence in Myanmar has profound implications for the country’s social fabric, political future and international stature; it is a story that cannot be buried. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were unearthing dark truths with the rigor of professional journalists: interviewing eyewitnesses on all sides and collecting physical and photographic evidence. Having twice honored imprisoned writers during the junta, we at PEN America lauded the advent of reform, hoping that the jailing of writers was a thing of the past. It is now clear we celebrated too soon. The prosecution of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo for the crime of exposing alleged atrocities is a jarring reminder that the fight for free expression in Myanmar remains incomplete and urgent. We are proud to honor these dauntless reporters and hope the award sounds a powerful signal that global concern for human rights in Myanmar will not let up.”
Reuters recently published the investigation that prompted Myanmar police authorities to arrest Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. You can read the full report here
[Reuters Press Blog]
Heather dot Carpenter at thomsonreuters dot com