RSF awards to Democratic Voice of Burma and Kareem Amer

Wednesday, Reporters without Borders presented the winners of their annual human rights awards ((rsf.org: The 16th Reporters Without Borders – Fondation de France prize awarded today in Paris)). Among those chosen by the jury were TV and radio station Democratic Voice of Burma and Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer.

Blog4BurmaDemocratic Voice of Burma ((Democratic Voice of Burma: Official site)) was awarded the prize in the category “media” mainly for their role on the failed “saffron” revolution at the end of September. The station was founded in 1992 by democratically-minded Burmese students who escaped the massacres of 1988. With growing success and more professional structures the DVB – based in Norway’s capital Oslo – soon became known as one of the few independent news channels available in Burma. Since 2005, satellite television broadcasts are being aired regularly. Together, DVB TV and radio reach millions of listeners with their program, being transmitted in Burmese and several local languages. It is the first and only free station in Burmese language ((Wikipedia: Democratic Voice of Burma)).

During the demonstrations and the following crackdown Democratic Voice of Burma was one of the most reliable sources on the topic, transmitting uncensored recordings submitted by underground correspondents. Together with bloggers like ko htike ((ko htike’s prosaic collection)) it was instrumental in attracting attention on the revolution, something what did not occur in 1988, when thousands were murdered by the junta.
The DVB’s work was and is marked by four primary goals:

  • the provision of “accurate and unbiased news to the people of Burma”
  • to “promote understanding and cooperation” among Myanmar’s religious and ethnic populations
  • to “encourage and sustain independent public opinion” and to provide for “social and political debate”
  • to “impart the ideals of democracy and human rights” to the Burmese people

Ideals, which were honored by being awarded the Reporters without Borders’ prize.

Free Kareem! Another prize winner is the Egyptian blogger Kareem Amer, who was awarded in the category “cyberdissident” ((FreeKareem!: Reporters Without Borders awards Kareem)). The 23 years old student, who was sentenced to prison because of insulting Islam and president Mubarak in February, mainly owes this to the “Free Kareem! Coalition” ((Free Kareem!)). Since Kareem became arrested in November 2006, they are working to attract international attention on his case.
As representative of Kareem, his lawyer traveled to Paris and got the prize, which includes 2500 €uros, in behalf of him. The money is a not to be underestimated help to the arrested, because he has been expelled from his family and depends on donations for his basic necessities.

The other prizewinners are Seyoum Tsehaye, an Eritrean journalist arrested since 2001, and the Journalistic Freedom Observatory from Iraq. Also, the Reporters without Borders awarded a special prize to husband-and-wife human rights team Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan. Both are currently under house arrest, but still doing their best to inform the world on human rights abuse in China, especially when dealing with next years Olympic Games in Beijing ((T-Shirt showing the Olympic rings as handcuffs, stating “Beijing 2008”)).

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