Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo (Myanmar), who are serving a seven-year prison sentence, share this year’s United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. The award ceremony will take place today, 2 May 2019, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, host of this year’s celebration of the World Press Freedom Day.
The two reporters were arrested on 12 December 2017 in Yangon on charges of violating the Official Secrets Act. They were chosen to receive the award based on the recommendation of an international jury of media professionals.
“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo symbolize their country’s emergence after decades of isolation,” said Wojciech Tochman, President of the Jury, in a statement.
“Both from modest, provincial backgrounds, they worked hard to pursue careers that would have been impossible in the junta era into which they were born. They were arrested because they documented a taboo topic regarding crimes committed against Rohingyas. The final choice of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo pays a tribute to their courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression,” he added.
The awarding of the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is part of the celebration of World Press Freedom Day (WPFD) on May 3. This year’s theme of the WPFD celebration is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and elections in times of disinformation.”