WASHINGTON, D. C.—PEN America expresses its appreciation to US Representatives Steve Chabot (R-Ohio), Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), Edward R. Royce (R-Calif.), and Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) for introducing a House Resolution calling for the release of Reuters journalists and 2018 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award honorees Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. The two men were unjustly sentenced to seven years in prison in September for reporting on the Burmese military’s brutal attacks against Rohingya Muslims. The resolution also “reaffirms the central role that independent and professional journalism plays in strengthening democratic governance, upholding the rule of law, mitigating conflict, and informing public opinion around the world.” As such, it demands the revocation or modification of laws that obstruct press freedom and the release of all journalists and political prisoners in Burma.

“This is an important step by a bipartisan group of senior Members of the US House of Representatives,” said Thomas O. Melia, PEN America Washington Director. “The conviction and sentencing of these journalists—who have been imprisoned for doing the vital work of reporting the truth about atrocities committed by the Burmese military—is a travesty of justice. It is time for the civilian authorities in Myanmar—President Win Myint and State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi—to repair the damage that has been done to the country’s reputation by pardoning and releasing these men immediately.”

House Resolution 1091 also urges that the Burmese military and government’s persecution of the Rohingya be officially classified as genocide, citing  a newly-released State Department report and the U.N. Independent Fact Finding Mission on Myanmar’s findings, which provide additional details and texture to the crimes that have been committed against the Rohingya people.

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PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. pen.org

CONTACT: Anoosh Gasparian, External Relations Manager: agasparian@pen.org