Chiang Mai ~ Thailand
2010 Prince Claus Laureate Aung Zaw (1968) is the founder and director of The Irrawaddy, the most reliable source of information on realities in Burma. A committed pro-democracy activist, he started in student politics, setting up an underground network to organise resistance to authoritarian rule in 1987. He was arrested and released several times, tortured during interrogation and, following the military coup in 1988, went into exile in Thailand. Recognising the urgency of keeping channels of communication open between Burma and the world, Aung Zaw founded the Burma Information Group to document human rights violations, lobby for democracy and provide information to international newspapers and human rights organisations. In 1993 he launched The Irrawaddy, the first independent publication on Burma and the most significant resource for up-to-date news on the situation. As editor and contributor he has built up an extraordinary network of trusted sources on the ground, inside one of the world’s most repressive states. In 2000, he set up the website to increase access. Published in Burmese and English, The Irrawaddy is officially banned and the website is largely blocked in a context of almost total control and surveillance of media and information. Dedicated to democracy for all, and to objective journalism, Aung Zaw remains unaffiliated to any political group and he has recently expanded coverage to related regional developments. Aung Zaw is honoured for his active dedication to achieving democratic government in Burma, for building such a valuable resource for exposing realities that those in power want to hide, for maintaining the flow of ideas and upholding freedom of information, and for his inspiring role in transgressing the containment of violently enforced political boundaries.