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Aung San Suu Kyi defends jailing of Burmese journalists

Aung San Suu Kyi defends jailing of Burmese journalists

Rohingya refugee girls cross a makeshift bamboo bridge at Kutupalong refugee camp, where they have been living amid uncertainty over their future after they fled Myanmar to escape violence a year ago, in Bangladesh. "We can not choose and pick". Myanmar has denied accusations of atrocities made by refugees, saying it conducted a legitimate counterinsurgency operation against militants. The two were sentenced for possession of police documents while investigating the killing of Rohingya Muslims. Speaking at the World Economic forum she said the conviction of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had "nothing to do with freedom of expression at all".

United Nations investigators last month said Myanmar's military carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Rohingya with "genocidal intent", and that the commander-in-chief and five generals should be prosecuted for the gravest crimes under worldwide law.

Aung San Suu Kyi said the situation was complicated by the myriad ethnic minorities in the area, some of which are at risk of disappearing entirely and which include not just the Muslims and Rakhine Buddhists.

Bangladesh and Myanmar reached a deal in November to begin repatriation within two months, but it has not started, with stateless Rohingya still crossing the border.

Mr Pence and Mrs May condemned the verdicts and called for the journalists' release after they were imprisoned for seven years each for allegedly possessing state secrets.

Although Myanmar and Bangladesh signed an agreement previous year to begin repatriating willing Rohingya back to Rakhine, Aung San Suu Kyi blamed Bangladesh for having stymied the process, which she said was supposed to have begun in January.

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But he also said he wished Aung San Suu Kyi had talked more about investment, "especially to Rakhine State". "I don't think anybody has bothered to read the summary of the judge", she added.

"The case has been held in open court", Aung San Suu Kyi said.

She made her comments at the World Economic Forum on ASEAN in Hanoi in response to a question from the forum moderator who asked whether she felt comfortable about the reporters being jailed. The rule of law was upheld and the pair will have a chance to appeal, she said.

The military, which ruled Myanmar for almost 50 years and still shares power with the civilian authorities, kept Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for more than 15 years before her release in 2010.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of advocacy group Human Rights Watch, said in an emailed statement that Aung San Suu Kyi had "got it all wrong" by defending the sentencing of the Reuters journalists on "rule of law" grounds.

Her party, the National League for Democracy, won a landslide victory in the 2015 elections but she can not be president as her late husband and children are British citizens.


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