Freedom of the press has been in danger since President Donald Trump was elected. He consistently blames and attacks the media and this criticism has reached new heights. The protections for journalists have been diminishing for a while, but the United States is the land of freedom and U.S. journalists do get that freedom to a certain extent. That is not the case in other countries.
Two Burmese journalists from Reuters were arrested on Dec. 12, 2017 for obtaining secret government documents about the violence in the Maungdaw township of Rakhine State, Myanmar. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were accused of breaching the Burma Official Secrets Act, passed in 1923. The journalists were arrested because they “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media,” according to the Ministry of Information.
The ministry was pursuing leads on a case of four Burmese military officers and three Burmese soldiers who were involved in the slayings of 10 people they suspected to be terrorists in Maungdaw’s Inn Din village, according to The Myanmar Times. The military officers and soldiers had been sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. However, both reporters could face up to 14 years of imprisonment.
The government only announced the arrest after the journalists were detained without any contact with families or lawyers for two weeks. Their next hearing was set for April 20 but they were still imprisoned until that day.
Third-world countries like Myyanmar look up to nations like the United States. Myanmar is finally on the track to democracy, but it still has a long way to go.
“I want to ask the government: Where is the truth and justice, where is the democracy and freedom?” Lone asked after his first hearing, according to The Myanmar Times.
Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, said in his CNN commentary, “We have a president who refers to journalists as enemies of the people and characterizes stories he doesn’t like as fake news.” Simon added, “We need an American president who defends press freedom rather than mocks it. Around the world, journalists in places like Myanmar and Ukraine risk their lives to report the news.”
Myanmar must continue to fight for the freedom of the press. The global freedoms of speech and the press are still in danger.
The United States does not need a president who attacks the media every chance he gets because they are reporting on not only his political failure but also his dirty laundry. Journalists are simply delivering the truth to the public and it is ultimately their job to do so.