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Mratt Kyaw Thu wins AFP Kate Webb prize
Reporter Mratt Kyaw Thu has won the 2017 Agence France-Presse Kate Webb prize for his coverage of ethnic strife in his native Myanmar.
The prize, with a 3,000 euro purse, honours journalists working in perilous or difficult conditions in Asia, and is named after a crusading AFP reporter who died in 2007 at the age of 64, after a career covering the world's troublespots – including Afghanistan.
Mratt Kyaw Thu, 27, was recognised for a series of articles focused on ethnic and religious conflict in Myanmar's Shan and Rakhine states in 2016 – the latter a precursor to the exodus of nearly 650,000 Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine earlier this year. The stories were published in the weekly English-language news magazine "Frontier", which has established a reputation for independent reporting in a country where rights groups say media freedoms have worsened, despite the installation of a civilian-led government last year.
"AFP is particularly pleased that a Myanmar journalist will receive the Kate Webb award for the first time since its inception in 2008," said AFP's Asia-Pacific regional director, Philippe Massonnet.
"Journalists work in a tough environment in Myanmar, where press freedom is a constant battle in which Mratt Kyaw Thu is one of the regular combatants," Massonnet said.
"This award is recognition for me personally but also for the struggles of all Myanmar journalists, who are in a very difficult situation right now," Mratt Kyaw Thu said, after learning he was the winner of the 2017 prize.
"Friends are being arrested for doing their job. Myanmar journalists are being watched closely by the military and government – it's worse than before," he said.
The prize will be formally presented at a ceremony in Yangon in the New Year.
About the Prize
Born in New Zealand, Kate Webb earned a reputation as a fearless reporter while covering wars and other historic events in Asia during a career spanning four decades. She made her name in Vietnam and also worked in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, India, South Korea and the Middle East. She was known for her kindness and compassion and became a mentor to younger Asian journalists.
The prize is administered by AFP and by the Webb family. It was first awarded in 2008.
AFP is a global news agency delivering fast, accurate, in-depth coverage of the events shaping our world from conflicts to politics, economics, sports, entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology. With 2,300 staff spread across almost every country, AFP covers the world 24 hours a day in six languages. AFP delivers the news in video, text, photos, multimedia and graphics to a wide range of customers including newspapers and magazines, radio and TV channels, web sites and portals, mobile operators, corporate clients as well as public institutions.