3 September 2018   Leave a comment

Two journalists from Myanmar, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were convicted of violating the Official Secrets Act in Myanmar for their reporting on the murder of ten Muslims by Myanmar security forces.  The two were convicted despite evidence that indicated that they had been framed:

“On April 20, a prosecution witness revealed in pre-trial hearings that police planted military documents on Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in order to frame them for violating the country’s Official Secrets Act. That admission drew gasps from the courtroom.

“A police officer told the court that he burned notes he made at the time of the reporters’ arrest, but didn’t explain why. Several prosecution witnesses contradicted the police account of where the arrests took place. A police major conceded the “secret” information allegedly found on the reporters wasn’t actually a secret.

“And outside the courtroom, military officials even admitted that the killings had indeed taken place.

The two were sentenced to 7 years in prison.  The court decision is incomprehensible and indicates that Myanmar is far from leaving its authoritarian past even though the military government is no longer in power.  The decision also sullies the reputation of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi who, before she became the leader of the government, was a fierce defender of human rights.  The evidence of crimes against humanity being committed by Myanmar authorities against the Royingha minority in the country is extensive and the news reports were entirely consistent with that evidence.

 

The US has decided to cancel all funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which provides “health care, education and social services to Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.”  The move comes after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu urged the US to end the program.  The Hill quotes the State Department spokesperson, Heather Nauert, who justified the decision:

“In her statement, Nauert said that the UNWRA’s business model and fundamental practices were ‘unsustainable.’ She added that the group has been in ‘crisis mode’ for years.

“‘The U.S. will no longer commit further funding to this irredeemably flawed operation,’ she said.  ‘We are very mindful of and deeply concerned regarding the impact upon innocent Palestinians, especially school children, of the failure of UNRWA and key members of the regional and international donor community to reform and reset the UNRWA way of doing business.’

“‘These children are part of the future of the Middle East.  Palestinians, wherever they live, deserve better than an endlessly crisis-driven service provision model.  They deserve to be able to plan for the future.'”

It is not clear how this decision moves the region closer to peace.  It will unquestionably increase the misery of many who rely upon this humanitarian assistance to survive.  Whether those individuals have the ability to persuade the Palestinian authorities, whether the Palestinian Authority or Hamas, to forge a legitimate peace is highly doubtful.

Posted September 3, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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