Press Releases

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to secure the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were wrongfully detained on December 12, 2017 while investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims and sentenced to seven years in prison in Burma earlier this month. Specifically, the Senators urged Pompeo to “raise their case at the highest levels and use all tools at [his] disposal, including the use of sanctions under existing authorities, to ensure their immediate and unconditional release.”

Joining Senators Rubio and Merkley were Senators Todd Young (R-IN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Susan M. Collins (R-ME), Richard J. Durbin (D-IL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Tim Kaine (D-VA).

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We write today with great concern regarding the case of two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were wrongfully detained and sentenced to seven years in prison in Burma earlier this month. We urge you to use all tools at your disposal, including the use of sanctions under existing authorities, to ensure their immediate and unconditional release.

You are no doubt aware that Burmese government forces have actively engaged in horrific atrocities and systematic attacks against the Rohingya population. The recent U.N. report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar lays out conclusive evidence that Burmese forces committed war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocidal intent in their organized campaign against Rohingya Muslims.

When journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were detained on December 12, 2017, for allegedly obtaining confidential official documents and violating the Official Secrets Act, they were investigating a massacre that occurred in the village of Inn Din, Rakhine State, where Burmese forces murdered ten Rohingya Muslims—eight men and two high school-age boys.  Their subsequent trial and sentencing further demonstrates the Burmese government’s alarming crackdown on press freedom, in addition to their attempts to stifle coverage of the atrocities committed against the Rohingya.

We appreciate your efforts in raising their case with Burma's Foreign Minister Kyaw Tin and calling for their immediate release. Your attention to this matter is critical and should be met with further action. We therefore urge you to continue to raise their case at the highest levels and use all tools at your disposal, including the use of sanctions under existing authorities, to ensure their immediate and unconditional release.

Thank you for your attention to this timely matter.

Sincerely,