Pence: No excuse for Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya

Pence: No excuse for Myanmar’s treatment of Rohingya
© Anna Moneymaker

Vice President Pence on Wednesday criticized Myanmar's leader over the country's treatment of Rohingya Muslims and its jailing of two journalists.

Pence spoke with Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi during a summit in Singapore, where he said the country's persecution of Rohingya Muslims is "without excuse."

"The violence and persecution by military and vigilantes that resulted in driving 700,000 Rohingya to Bangladesh is without excuse," he said. "I'm anxious to hear about the progress that you're making, holding those accountable who are responsible for the violence that displaced so many hundreds of thousands and created such suffering, including the loss of life."

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He went on to call the arrest and jailing of two Reuters journalists last year "deeply troubling," and emphasized the importance of a "free and independent press."

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, of Reuters were arrested nearly a year ago in Myanmar for violating the country's Official Secrets Act. The two had been working on stories about military persecution of the Rohingya, which has caused hundreds of thousands of people to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.

The two men were sentenced in September to seven years in prison.

The Associated Press reported that Pence urged Suu Kyi to pardon the journalists, and the two discussed how the Rohingya who have fled can safely return to Myanmar.

Suu Kyi, who earned awards from human rights groups for opposing Myanmar's old military dictatorship, has been stripped of some of those honors in recent months because of her inaction on the persecution of the Rohingya.

The Trump administration's relationship with the press has at times been tense. It currently faces a lawsuit for revoking the White House credentials of CNN's Jim Acosta.