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Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo to appeal seven-year sentence | Myanmar News

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Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Reuters news agency journalists jailed while reporting on last year’s Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, are set to appeal the decision on Monday.

The reporters were arrested in December 2017 and later sentenced to seven years in prison under the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act for what prosecutors said was the possession of classified material on security operations.

The duo – who have spent more than a year behind bars – pleaded not guilty, insisting that they had been framed by the police.

Reuters also disputed the charge and said they were set up after probing the massacre of 10 Rohingya during a military crackdown that forced hundreds of thousands of people belonging to the long-persecuted, mostly Muslim minority to flee their homes in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State for neighbouring Bangladesh.

The ruling in September by a Yangon district court sparked international outcry and widespread condemnation.

Media advocates say the convictions sent a chilling message about investigating sensitive issues in Myanmar as it emerges from decades of military rule.

But calls for the reporters’ release have fallen flat inside Myanmar, with civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi saying in September that the jailing of the reporters had nothing to do with freedom of expression. She said they were not jailed because they were journalists.

Outside Myanmar, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, have been feted with a string of prestigious awards presented in their absence and hailed as heroes.

The two reporters were also jointly named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year this month, alongside other persecuted and slain journalists, as concerns grow for deteriorating press freedoms around the world.

The anniversary of their arrest on December 12 was marked by newsrooms publishing photos of their staff flashing two thumbs up, a defiant gesture Wa Lone made at court that became synonymous with the duo’s resilience.

“A year ago, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in a set-up by police, intended to interfere with their reporting on a massacre in Myanmar,” Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J Adler said in a statement on December 12.

“The fact that they remain in prison for a crime they did not commit calls into question Myanmar’s commitment to democracy, freedom of expression and rule of law.”

The trial was widely regarded as a sham and payback for uncovering the September 2017 massacre in Inn Din village.

One whistle-blowing police officer told the court his superior ordered a sting to entrap the reporters.

More than 720,000 Rohingya have fled Rakhine state to Bangladesh since the military’s crackdown last August, bringing accounts of rape, arson and mass killings.

UN investigators have said the evidence warrants charges of genocide against the country’s top generals, but the army maintains it was defending itself against Rohingya militants.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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