Asia News Network will reveal its person of the year on December 28. For more on the finalists and runners up, please click this link here.
By the time this story comes out, both Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo would have spent over a year behind bars for reporting on a massacre (and a cover up) by Myanmar’s armed forces.
Their meticulous reporting detailed the arrest and extra-judicial killings of ten Rohingya men by security forces in a remote village in the restive Rakhine state.
These killings were part of a larger series of atrocities carried out by Myanmar’s security forces in what the United Nations and other human rights organizations are calling a genocide against the Rohingya refugees.
But Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are not finalists just for their reporting, although that would have been reason enough to merit them a consideration.
No, both men are here not only because they were jailed for their actions (and need we remind you that journalism is NOT a crime) but the dignity and poise in which they have approached their plight.
At each court hearing, at each public appearance, since their arrest both have smiled to cameras and maintained that they were proud of their reporting and that the truth would win out in the end.
One would not fault them if they had not done so, one could not fault them if both men decried their fate and cursed the government. After all, there is nothing just about a seven year sentence for reporting on an atrocity. There is nothing fair about being locked in jail unable to watch your small children grow up.
But both men have maintained their dignity and have pledged themselves not just to their work but to their young country. Because unlike Aung San Suu Kyi and her government, both Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo understands the necessity of truth in maintaining, furthering and ensuring a democracy. This is why they’re finalists.