Myanmar frees 2 Pulitzer-winning Reuters journalists from prison

Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo gesture outside Insein prison after being freed in a presidential amnesty in Yangon on Tuesday local time.
Reuters journalists Wa Lone (L) and Kyaw Soe Oo. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Myanmar has freed 2 Pulitzer-winning Reuters journalists from a prison on the outskirts of Yangon after they'd spent more than 500 days behind bars, the news agency first reported.

Background: Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, were convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act in September and sentenced to 7 years in jail, in a case denounced by rights groups who said the pair were imprisoned for doing their jobs. They were arrested in December 2017 while investigating the deaths of 10 Rohingya Muslims.

128,000 Rohingya Muslims remain displaced in Myanmar

Refugee camp
Photo: Dibyanshu Sarkar/AFP via Getty Images

Myanmar's government has said it will close refugee camps housing 128,000 displaced Rohingya Muslims in an effort to to spur development, but a Reuters investigation has revealed the act will do little to restore freedom of movement — meaning the situation in Rakhine state will remain largely the same for a group UN investigators suspect has been targeted for ethnic cleansing.

The big picture: While the government of Aung San Suu Kyi builds more permanent homes next to the camps, Rohingya refugees will be unable to return to the areas from which they were displaced. They remain to subject to official checkpoints and threats of violence, essentially causing them to be cut from "sources of livelihood" and dependent on humanitarian aid, according to Reuters.

Go deeper: Rohingya refugees long to return home but fear what they'd find there