The Director of Imperial’s Institute of Global Health Innovation saw the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in Myanmar today.
Professor the Lord (Ara) Darzi of Denham, who has worked in Myanmar (Burma) since 2012 on a humanitarian basis, spent recent months in dialogue with the government about the journalists' status.
The two journalists, who have been held since December 2017 after reporting on the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, were pardoned and released this morning in Yangon.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists were released as an international advisory group reviewed the implementation of the late Kofi Annan’s recommendations on the future of Rakhine State.
Lord Darzi said: “I am delighted that the Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, have been granted a pardon, released from custody, and are with their loved ones once more. I know that it will come as a huge relief to their families, friends and colleagues.
“This outcome shows that dialogue works, even in the most difficult of circumstances. I would like to pay tribute to all of those that came together to achieve this—the Government of Myanmar, the world-renowned Reuters news agency, the UN and various governments and international organisations.
“The power of dialogue must be turned towards securing a lasting peace in Rakhine State and the return of the hundreds of thousands of refugees, whose desperate plight continues. This is essential if Myanmar is to build on today’s progress so that all its citizens can live together in dignity in the hope of a better tomorrow.”
He used a BBC interview to emphasise that "There have been many international institutions and governments involved in the dialogue - and dialogue is the only way to achieve what we've achieved today."
Lord Darzi’s contributions to improving the health system in Myanmar, include work to modernise Yangon General Hospital, and hosting a visit to Imperial’s Surgical Innovation Centre for the Burmese leader in 2017.
In 2017 Lord Darzi joined the International Advisory Board that was established to oversee the implementation of the recommendations on the future of Rakhine State made by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.
Lord Darzi is currently in Myanmar for a meeting on the implementation of the recommendations of the Kofi Annan Commission on the future of Rakhine State, which include freedom of the press.
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