CPJ is honored to present its 2021 International Press Freedom Award to Myanmar journalist Aye Chan Naing.
Aye Chan Naing is co-founder, chief editor, and executive director of the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), an independent broadcast media group in Myanmar.
He was key to DVB’s establishment in Oslo, Norway, in 1992 on shortwave radio to broadcast independent news, pioneering Myanmar’s exile media movement in which underground in-country reporters generated and disseminated news that was impossible to publish from inside the then-military-ruled country.
Aye Chan Naing led the media group’s transition from exile- to in-country-based operations in 2012, when DVB’s network of underground journalists came above ground to establish the nation’s first independent broadcast media in decades.
CPJ has covered the government’s harassment of DVB for more than a decade, including during the previous military era when several of its undercover journalists were detained and given decade-plus prison sentences on spurious charges.
Myanmar’s independent media, including DVB, came under renewed threat in February 2021, when the military seized power from the country’s elected government, imposed emergency rule and cracked down on the press. The military has since blocked TV stations, disrupted internet services, banned news organizations and arrested dozens of journalists, including three from DVB.
Many have gone into hiding or fled the country altogether due to fear of state reprisal for their critical news coverage. Although DVB was knocked off the air directly after the coup and officially banned on March 8, it continues to broadcast online and over other platforms, providing detailed daily accounts of the regime’s lethal crackdown on anti-coup protesters.
Bestowing this year’s award on Aye Chan Naing recognizes not only his decades-long history of unflinching and courageous journalism but also his and DVB’s dogged commitment to keeping the world informed about happenings in Myanmar at a time it has perhaps never been more dangerous to be a journalist in the country.