Reuters journalists held ‘for investigating Myanmar killings’

Reuters has revealed details of an investigation into a mass execution of Rohingyas by soldiers and villagers, which it says lies behind the arrest of two of its journalists in Myanmar.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Seo Oo are awaiting trial, charged with violating the country’s Official Secrets Act.

The news agency claims they uncovered evidence the 10 Rohingyas were killed unlawfully in Rakhine state last year.

It hopes this will demonstrate the pair were acting in the public interest.

Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen J Adler said: “When Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were first arrested, our primary focus was on their safety. Once we understood their legal situation, we, in consultation with Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and their relatives, decided that it was our responsibility to publish an account of what happened in the village of Inn Din.

“We published this ground-breaking investigation because it is in the global public interest.”

The BBC has been unable to independently verify all the details of the alleged killings – access to the area is restricted – but it comes in the wake of a series of allegations of massacres in Rakhine last year based on eyewitness testimony.

The crisis in mainly Buddhist Myanmar’s north-western Rakhine state hit global headlines late last year when hundreds of thousands of Muslims fled a deadly military crackdown.

The military says it is fighting Rohingya militants in Rakhine, but rights groups say thousands of civilians have been killed.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are two Burmese journalists credited with some powerful reporting. They were arrested on 12 December after meeting police and receiving documents from them.

Authorities say they were “arrested for possessing important and secret government documents related to Rakhine State and security forces” and that the information had been “illegally acquired with the intention to share it with foreign media”.

But ever since their arrest there has been speculation that the men were working on a highly sensitive investigation.

Reuters have now decided to publish details to support their claim the men were working on a story with clear global public interest. (Courtesy BBC)