By NJ Thakuria
Guwahati: A senior Burmese television journalist was recently honoured by Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) on the occasion of last World Press Freedom Day. Zaw Phay, who covered the Saffron Revolution of Burma in 2007 and was sentenced to imprisonment in 2010 is included as one of 100 information heroes of the world.
Prepared by the Paris based media watchdog for the first time, the list includes media (information) activists from 65 countries and was released on May 3 worldwide. These heroes’ (aged from 25 to 75) helped ‘to promote the freedom enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights through their courageous work or activism’, said an RSF statement.
“They put their ideals in the service of the common good. They serve as examples. World Press Freedom Day should be an occasion for paying tribute to the courage of the journalists and bloggers who constantly sacrifice their safety and sometimes their lives to their vocation,” said RSF’s secretary-general Christophe Deloire.
About the Burmese video reporter, the RSF statement said that he is an experienced journalist who started out as a clandestine video reporter for Democratic Voice of Burma (now DVB Multimedia Group) during the Saffron Revolution in 2007. Zaw Phay is also a former political prisoner who was given a three-year jail sentence in 2010 for filming without permission while investigating a water shortage in Nat Mauk, in the central Magway region.
Released in a January 2012 amnesty, he went back to work at once. His journalistic dedication got him into trouble a few months later when he investigated a Japanese-funded scholarship programme in Magway. A local education department official filed a complaint accusing him of trespassing on government property and disturbing a civil servant in the course of his duties. In April 2014, almost two years after the complaint, Zaw Phay was sentenced to a year in prison under articles 448 and 353 of the penal code. He is currently serving the sentence in Thet prison.
The list included a lady Indian journalist named Tongam Rina from Arunachal Pradesh in northeast India. Rina, who works for Arunachal Times, an influential English daily published from Itanagar, was shot at by miscreants on 15 July, 2012 in front of the newspaper office suspectedly for her bold articles against anti-social elements in the society.
Some other journalists who made it to RSF list include Asif Mohiuddin (Bangladesh), Hamid Mir & Muhammad Ziauddin (Pakistan), Jigme Gyatso (Tibet), MV Kaanamylnathan (Sri Lanka), Mariyath Mohammed (Maldives), Similarly Najiba Ayubi & Danish Karokhel (Afghanistan), Chiranuch Premchaiporn (Thailand), Oudom Tat (Cambodia), Peter John Jaban (Malaysia), Le Ngoc Thanh, Truong Duy Nhat & Pham Chi Dung (Vietnam), Liu Hu & Huang Qi & Li Jianjun (China), Yu Terasawa (Japan), Svetlana Reiter, Aksana Panova & Israpil Shovkhalov (Russia) etc.
Similarly Malahat Nasibova, Khadija Ismayilova & Ganimat Zahid (Azerbaijan), Najiba Hamrouni (Tunisia), Said Matinpour & Jila Bani Yaghoob (Iran), Glenn Greenwald & Laura Poitras (USA), Lydia Cacho & Anabel Hernández (Mexico), Yoani Sánchez & Angel Santiesteban-Prats (Cuba), María Pía Matta & Mireya Manquepillán Huanquil (Chile), Gerard Ryle (Australia), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Giuseppe Maniaci (Italy), Johnny Bissakonou (Central African Republic), Muhammad Bekzhanov & Mutabar Tadjibayeva (Uzbekistan), Lukpan Akhmedyarov (Kazakhstan), Gorka Landáburu (Spain), Ali Dilem (Algérie), Eric Topona (Tchad), Claudia Duque (Colombia), Queirós Anastácio Chiluvia (Angola), Ali Anouzla & Ali Lmrabet (Morroco) also featured in the list.
Others who succeeded in including their names in the list are Kalafi Moala (Tonga), Hassan Ruvakuki (Burundi), Maydaneh Abdallah Okieh (Djibouti), Rodney Sieh (Liberia), Nicaise Kibel Bel’Oka & Tshivis Tshivuadi (Democratic Republic of Congo), Milka Tadic Mijovic (Montenegro), Abdul Bary Taher (Yemen), Andrzej Poczobut (Belarus), Ileana Alamilla (Guatemala), Amara Al-Khitabi (Libya), Agnès Uwimana Nkusi (Rwanda), Assen Yordanov (Bulgaria), Reyot Alemu (Ethiopia), Mabel Cáceres (Peru), Malick Ali Maiga (Mali), Zhanna Litvina (Belarus), Rowena Paraan (Philippines), Yrgalem Fisseha Mebrahtu (Eritrea), Dina Daskalopoulou (Greece), Lirio Abbate (Italy) etc.
The list of honoured media activists continue with Adnan Hassanpour (Iran), Julian Assange (Australia), Brankica Stanković (Serbia), Siamak Qaderi (Iran), Serhiy Leshchenko (Ukraine), Nuriddin Karshiboev (Tajikistan), Mazen Darwish (Syria), Hanan Al-Mqawab (Libya), Dina Meza (Honduras), Fahem Boukadous (Tunisia), José Belo (Timor Leste), Ahmed Humeidan & Ali Abdulemam (Bahrain), Itsmania Pineda Platero (Honduras), Biniam Simon (Eritrea), Verónica Basurto (Mexico), Gotson Pierre (Haiti), Sardar Muhammad (Iraqi Kurdistan), Dawit Isaac (Eritrea), Abeer Saady (Egypt), Razan Zaitouneh (Syria), Blaž Zgaga (Slovenia), Oleksiy Matsuka (Ukraine), Saouti Haïdara (Mali), Amira Hass (Israel), Hasan Cemal & Ismail Saymaz (Turkey) and Waleed Al-Shehhi (United Arab Emirates).