The heading on his email reply read "Congratulations!" Whatever for, I wondered. I opened the email:
What makes me happiest about having won this award is knowing that more people will now have a chance to get to know some of the heroes of the Burmese protests whom I have been interviewing. I have only just begun posting their stories at Jotman.The news report at the lenta.ru just says that:
1) A Belarus blog won in the main nomination "The Best Blog"2) A few words about the Belarus winner, a 23-old journalist from Minsk, Ksenia Avimova3) And in the "Reporters Without Borders" nomination, the winner is: Jotman, who reported on the Thai military coup in 2006 and is now reporting live from Burma4) Also mentions the winner of "The Best Blog in Russian": some "kitya"5) and then the full list of the winners follows...Cheers!
In various safe-houses and hideaways on the Thai side of the Burma border, in recent days I have talked to half-a-dozen protest leaders -- monks and extraordinary citizens -- who escaped over the border to Thailand.
It is to these heroes that I dedicate this award. Namely:
- To the escaped monks, U Zaw Thi Kha and U Kaw Thar La, who helped to lead the Rangoon protests. They continue to demonstrate literally unspeakable courage; I'm talking about deeds so brave I could not report them.
- To Ashin Kovida: the chairman of the monks' committee that led the protest, Kovida escaped across the border to Thailand in the middle of October. The New York Times did a short feature on him, but I will tell you much more.
- To U Pan Cher of Rangoon: this Sikh businessman is truly a national hero; he showed breathtaking courage; leading the ordinary people of Rangoon, he coordinated the movements of civilian protesters with those of the monks. May his name be sung in Burma for generations! You will soon be able to read about him here.
And let us not forget Japanese journalist Kenji Nagai who was murdered in cold blood by Burma's military. Nagai inspired me. I'm also thinking about the bloggers of Burma, who made the whole world aware of the protest instantaneously through their firsthand reports and photos -- moment by moment. This award is about them.
The award I won is sponsored by Reporters without Borders (Reporters sans frontières), the Paris-based organization that fights for freedom of speech, supporting journalists around the world. At the forefront of the worldwide struggle for open society; the group serves all humanity. Moreover, Reporters were among the first to recognize and defend blogger's rights; they speak out on behalf of bloggers who have been unjustly censored or jailed. I am honored to have received an award in their name. Because Reporters without Borders is both so worthwhile and so dependent on donations from the public, I encourage you to support them generously.
Thank you to my dear readers, members of the jury, and Germany's public broadcaster Deuche Welle for holding the competition -- along with co-sponsor Global Voices.
To paraphrase what Zaw Nyein Latt, a former political prisoner of the regime -- twice tortured, told me on the weekend:
Today I fight for Burma, tomorrow for the world.______________________
*These are people I have recently spoken to, and to date I have only shared a fraction of what they have told me. I will be posting their stories on Jotman.com over the next few weeks. I hope you will let me share their courage with you. These are inspiring stories, stories that have not only changed lives, but the history of a nation.
Photos, from top to bottom: Ashin Kovida (Jotman), U U Pan Cher (Jotman) , anonymous monk in Burma (Jotman), Kenji Nagai (Reuters), Zawn Yein Latt (Jotman).