Imprisoned Reuters Reporter Kyaw Soe Oo Is Ill, His Wife Says

By Lawi Weng 1 March 2019

Jailed Reuters reporter Kyaw Soe Oo has fallen ill in prison, according to his wife.

Ma Chit Su Win told The Irrawaddy on Friday that her husband had a high temperature and appeared very weak when she visited him at Yangon’s Insein Prison on Feb. 27.

“His whole body is covered in a rash and he has a high temperature,” Ma Chit Su Win said. Walking left him very tired and he was unable to talk for more than 5 minutes, she said.

After being invited to dinner to meet with police to discuss a story, Kyaw Soe Oo and his Reuters colleague Wa Lone were arrested in December 2017 and accused of violating the Official Secrets Act. The journalists were eventually convicted and sentenced to 7-year prison terms. The case drew international attention as many critics of the case—and even a police officer serving as a prosecution witness during the trial—claimed the pair had been framed. Prior to their arrests, they had been reporting about rights abuses committed by the Myanmar Army in Rakhine State, including the massacre of 10 Rohingya civilians.

Kyaw Soe Oo has received some treatment at the prison’s hospital, Ma Chit Su Win said.

“He told me not to come on Thursday as the doctor planned to put him on an intravenous drip,” she said.

She said a doctor from the prison hospital told her he had conducted a blood test on Kyaw Soe Oo on Thursday and found no abnormalities. Nonetheless, Ma Chit Su Win said she was very worried about her husband’s condition, adding that she planned to visit to him on Monday.

“The doctor told us that he was fine, and that we did not need to worry,” she said.

Reuters’ office in Yangon said it would help Ma Chit Su Win and her family write a letter to the prison authorities asking that Kyaw Soe Oo be allowed to seek treatment outside the prison.

“We have requested permission to transfer Kyaw Soe Oo to his doctor for a consultation and to visit him and Wa Lone. We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” Reuters said on Friday in an email sent to The Irrawaddy.

Ma Chit Su Win visits her husband in prison every day. She said Kyaw Soe Oo was in relatively good spirits and did not appear to be depressed, but complained about missing his family, especially when he was sick.

“He is my husband. I want to take good care of him. But I can’t do it. So I’m really worried for him,” she said, adding “I wish I could get inside the prison to take care of him.”