YANGON (Reuters) – Ever since Reuters Myanmar reporter Wa Lone was arrested on Dec. 12 on suspicion of violating the Official Secrets Act, friends and former colleagues have poured out their hearts and expressed hopes for his release on social media.
Wa Lone and colleague Kyaw Soe Oo, who was also arrested, had worked on Reuters coverage of a crisis in the western state of Rakhine, where an estimated 655,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled from a fierce military crackdown on militants.
Major governments, including the United States, the European Union and Canada, and top U.N. officials, are among those demanding the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.
In Myanmar, which is still in transition after almost half a century of strict military rule, speaking out in support of journalists and others who run afoul of the authorities is more the exception than the rule.
A relative of Kyaw Soe Oo, who is based in Rakhine State, where animosity between the Buddhist Rakhine community and Rohingya Muslims is intense, said his friends were reluctant to show support for him given the divisive atmosphere.