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  • Detained Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo arrive at Insein court in Yangon, Myanmar, August 27, 2018.

    Detained Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo arrive at Insein court in Yangon, Myanmar, August 27, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 April 2019

When arrested, the pair of journalists were investigating a massacre of 10 Rohingya men in a Buddhist village in the Rankine State.

For 490 days they have lived behind bars for allegedly breaking a colonial-era law in Myanmar while reporting on a massacre of 10 Rohingya by Buddhist villagers. Now the two journalists have been awarded the Pulitzer Prize in international reporting.

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Two young Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, both Myanmar citizens, uncovering the killings when they found a mass grave filled with bones sticking out of the ground. They went on to gather testimony from perpetrators, witnesses and families of victims.

In their pursuit, they obtained three devastating photographs from villagers: two showing the 10 Rohingya men bound and kneeling; the third showing the mutilated and bullet-ridden bodies of the same 10 men in the same shallow grave they had identified.

In December 2017, before Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo could complete their story, they were arrested in what international observers have criticized as an effort by authorities to censor their work. The report, "Massacre in Myanmar," was completed by their colleagues at Reuters, Simon Lewis and Antoni Slodkowski, and published in February 2018.

In September that same year, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were sentenced to seven years in prison for violating the country's Official Secrets Act. They have since lost two appeals.

"I'm thrilled that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and their colleagues have been recognized for their extraordinary, courageous coverage, and our photojournalists for their moving pictures that show humanity defying huge obstacles," Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler said in a statement.

"I remain deeply distressed, however, that our brave reporters... are still behind bars," Adler added.

The winners were announced Monday and included The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for their coverage of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in October of last year.

In other categories, coverage of multiple mass shootings in the United States and investigations into U.S. President Donald Trump featured prominently. Reuters won a second for photographs of Central American migrants seeking asylum in the United States. The New York Times, Reuters, and the Washington Post took home two Pulitzers each. The Associated Press was awarded for reporting war atrocities in Yemen.

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