Why jailed Myanmar reporters received the Pulitzer Prize

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Reuters journalists who were jailed in Myanmar for 511 days and were released recently after being pardoned, received their Pulitzer Prize for international reporting on Tuesday.

They were convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act, before being pardoned.

The Pulitzer Prize they were cited to receive last month when the annual awards were announced was:

“For expertly exposing the military units and Buddhist villagers responsible for the systematic expulsion and murder of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, courageous coverage that landed its reporters in prison.”

“I feel very humble and greatly honoured to be here,” Wa Lone said at the New York City presentation ceremony on Tuesday.

“I would like to recognize our fellow journalists around the world who risk their lives and their freedom ever day to report the news.”

Kyaw Soe Oo added via a translator: “We are incredibly grateful for all the support we have received from all the journalists and media organizations around the world,”

Wa Lone, who joined Reuters in July 2016, has covered a range of in-depth stories in Myanmar, including land grabs by the powerful military and the murder of prominent politician Ko Ni, as well as uncovering evidence of killings by soldiers in the northeast. His reporting on the crisis that erupted in northwestern Rakhine state in October 2016 won him a joint honorable mention from the Society of Publishers in Asia in its annual awards.

Wa Lone previously worked for the Myanmar Times, where he covered Myanmar’s historic 2015 elections, and the weekly People’s Age, where his editor was Myanmar’s current Minister of Information Pe Myint.Wa Lone co-founded the Third Story Project, a charitable foundation that produces and distributes stories that aim to promote tolerance between Myanmar’s different ethnic groups, and is involved in projects working with orphans. He also wrote a children’s book, The Gardener, a story in Burmese and English with an environmental message that draws on his own rural roots.

Wa Lone met his wife while working at the Myanmar Times.

Kyaw Soe Oohas worked with Reuters from Myanmar since September 2017. He has covered the impact of the August 25 attacks on police and army posts in the northern Rakhine, and reported from the central part of the state where local Buddhists have been enforcing segregation between Rohingya and Rakhine communities.

He previously worked for Root Investigation Agency, a local news outlet focused on Rakhine issues. Kyaw Soe Oo started his reporting career with the online Rakhine Development News.

Kyaw Soe Oe, an ethnic Rakhine Buddhist, grew up in the state capital Sittwe.