Two Reuters journalists in Myanmar who had been jailed for exposing a massacre of Rohingya were freed early Tuesday after spending more than 500 days in prison.
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were among 6,520 inmates released under a third round of pardons by President Win Myint to celebrate the traditional New Year, which began on April 17.
Wa Lone’s wife, Pan Ei Mon, confirmed the release of the journalists to Anadolu Agency.
“We are now with them. They are freed,” she said by phone.
The two were arrested in December 2017 and each sentenced to seven years in prison in September 2018 over their alleged breach of a colonial-era law for investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya men in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2017.
Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.
According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017.
Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar’s state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).
More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the report, titled “Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience.”
Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar’s army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.
The UN has also documented mass gang rapes, killings – including of infants and young children – and brutal beatings and disappearances committed by Myanmar state forces.
In a report, UN investigators said such violations may have constituted crimes against humanity and genocidal intent.