Sign Now: Demand the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo

Detained Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone are transported in a police vehicle after a court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar April 20, 2018 . REUTERS/Ann Wang

Office of the President
Office #18

Dear President Win Myint,

As writers, journalists, artists, and supporters of PEN America, we write to protest the arrest and prosecution of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.  We call on the government of Myanmar to drop all charges against them and ensure their immediate and unconditional release.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the winners of the 2018 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, have been jailed since December 12, 2017 and are currently being tried under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act for possessing documents relating to the humanitarian crisis in Rakhine State. On April 20, Police Captain Moe Yan Naing testified that the two journalists had been framed as part of a police plot to arrest them. At the time of their arrest, the two journalists had been investigating a massacre of Rohingya villagers in the village of Inn Din. The attack was subsequently confirmed by the military, and seven soldiers were sentenced to 10 years hard labor for carrying out the massacre. In a painful irony, if they are convicted, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo both face up to 14 years in prison for the ‘crime’ of bringing the truth to light.

The intrepid reporting of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo comes at a critical juncture for Myanmar and has profound implications for the future of the country. Through their rigorous investigation, the two journalists uncovered vivid photographic evidence and numerous eyewitness accounts of the alleged atrocities occurring in Rakhine State related to a military campaign perpetrated by the Myanmar army, an operation which human rights groups and the United Nations contest amounts to ethnic cleansing. Their work is not only essential in holding the Myanmar government to account for their actions, but also in rallying the international community to confront the ethnic violence and abuses that threaten the Rohingya people.

It was with great hope that the world watched Myanmar’s historic November 2015 elections, in which the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party won a decisive victory. We, like so many others, hoped that the new civilian-led government would improve the environment for free expression, and ensure that reporters like Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo could conduct their work without fear of reprisals. However, journalists continue to be jailed for their work, while citizens’ ability to be informed about events of national importance, particularly the crisis in Rakhine state, has been severely circumscribed by journalists’ inability to report from the conflict zone.

We stand with Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in solidarity and join with PEN America in raising our voices to protect the values of freedom of expression and a free press. We call on the government of Myanmar to drop all charges against these courageous journalists and ensure that they and others have the right to report freely and without fear of repercussions.


Marina Abramović
Chimamanda Adichie
Christiane Amanpour
K. Anthony Appiah
Margaret Atwood
Paul Auster
Alec Baldwin
Robert A. Caro
Rosanne Cash
Michael Chabon
Ron Chernow
Sandra Cisneros
J.M. Coetzee
Teju Cole
Michael Cunningham
Lydia Davis
Jennifer Egan
Louise Erdrich
Jeffrey Eugenides
Jonathan Franzen
Masha Gessen
Amitav Ghosh
Philip Gourevitch
John Green
Lev Grossman
Jessica Hagedorn
Siri Hustvedt
David Henry Hwang
Mary Karr
Nicole Krauss
Chang-rae Lee
Jonathan Lethem
Janet Malcolm
Colum McCann
Ian McEwan
Claire Messud
Rick Moody
Susan Orlean
Cynthia Nixon
George Packer
Gregory Pardlo
Robert Pinsky
Victoria Redel
Molly Ringwald
Salman Rushdie
Esmeralda Santiago
George Saunders
Stacy Schiff
Elif Shafak
Andrew Solomon
Stephen Sondheim
Alec Soth
Elizabeth Strout
Rose Styron
Calvin Trillin
Scott Turow
Anne Tyler
Ayelet Waldman
Tobias Wolff
Bob Woodward

Sign the Petition

3,784 of 10,000 signatures

Latest Signatures
Robert D.Jun 22, 2018
Mary Kay G.Jun 22, 2018
Susan E.Jun 21, 2018
Mary C.Jun 21, 2018
Beth S.Jun 21, 2018
Lisa S.Jun 20, 2018
Pam E.Jun 20, 2018
Jason N.Jun 18, 2018
Steven K.Jun 17, 2018
eileen w.Jun 17, 2018
Randi S.Jun 17, 2018
Kimberly L.Jun 16, 2018
Judy S.Jun 16, 2018
Deborah M.Jun 14, 2018
Joyce P.Jun 14, 2018
David M.Jun 14, 2018
Jennifer S.Jun 13, 2018
marsha s.Jun 13, 2018
Elizabeth M.Jun 13, 2018
Theresa B.Jun 13, 2018
Debra B.Jun 13, 2018
Juan C.Jun 13, 2018
Patricia G.Jun 13, 2018
Julia B.Jun 13, 2018
Sharon K.Jun 13, 2018
Vicki L.Jun 13, 2018
Bracha N. B.Jun 13, 2018
Amy H.Jun 13, 2018
Alice D.Jun 13, 2018
Bess S.Jun 13, 2018
Sergio P.Jun 12, 2018
Robert+L K.Jun 12, 2018
Lisa A.Jun 12, 2018
Leo R.Jun 12, 2018
Maria F.Jun 12, 2018
Alan B.Jun 12, 2018
Sasha K.Jun 10, 2018
Jerome C.Jun 10, 2018
Alex S.Jun 09, 2018
kimberly b.Jun 07, 2018
Carol H.Jun 07, 2018
Tiana B.Jun 07, 2018
Sholey A.Jun 07, 2018
Alicia B.Jun 06, 2018
Diane L.Jun 06, 2018
Jessica C.Jun 06, 2018
Riddik N.Jun 06, 2018
Maria C.Jun 05, 2018
Richard G.Jun 05, 2018
Kat R.Jun 05, 2018