Is it a crime to be a journalist in 2018?

Written by Sabine Demosthenes

MONTREAL-  For a few months, this question has been haunting me in a way I couldn’t have imagined. Right now, in this world we are living in, is still normal that some governments or regimes consider journalism to be a crime?

In Canada, we don’t have this problem, but in the Raymar, this is what seems to be the case. Wa Lone, (32) and Kyaw So Oo, (28), who could have been my little brothers because they are only a few years younger, were arrested in December 2017 simply because they were doing their jobs – being journalists. They were sentenced to seven years in prison last September after reporting the atrocities and the killing of Rohingya Muslims in the Raymar.

Their human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, gave a speech this last September at the UN Headquarters kindly asking if Aung San Suu Kyi, one of the famous Nobel Peace Prize honoraries and the Myanmar State Counsellor, could pardon the two journalists. By the way in early 2000, every time I have been to a U2 concert, I have seen a message of her telling us to be pacific and hope for a better world for the next generation.

So far, Aung San Suu Kyi is doing so little. With her inaction, you may question, damn, of all the people, does she truly think those journalists are criminals?? In my dictionary, The SAB Illustrated Dictionary 2018, being a journalist is not a crime. A journalist shouldn’t be in jail for doing their job. Criminals have done bad things like killing, stealing … Oh! Speaking of stealing, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were accused of breaching a secret act when they obtained confidential documents. Those documents would have been useful for terrorist organizations and enemies of the state. But those journalists were tricked. Clear and simple. Let’s try to find something to put them in jail so they won’t cover a very important story.

Even Amal said and I’m quoting: ”She (Aung San Suu Kyi) knows that mass murder is not a state secret and that exposing it doesn’t turn a journalist into a spy… History will judge her on her response”.

More and more, my conviction of not putting my trust in the government is growing. When I was young (I’m still young at heart), Aung San Suu Kyi was this really sweet and fragile, but feisty and courageous woman who wanted a better future for the country where she was born and raised. I saw her as a very gentle, pacific and kind-hearted person. Now, I have taken off my rose-coloured sunglasses, and I don’t find what I am reading about Myanmar in the news beautiful.

Those two journalists are apart from their young families. I can’t imagine the anguish and the kind of stress they are experiencing in their situation. I have the luxury of writing this post without fear of being thrown in jail or killed. I do take this for granted and I am ashamed of admitting it. But I won’t be ashamed to stand by those men.

Being a journalist is not a crime.

Never!

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