Excellencies, Editors, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Thank you everybody for giving me the opportunity to be here. It’s an honor.
When I was informed about this award, I was really surprised. I never expected to be recognized for my profession and my work.
To be honest, I have previously only heard of this award, I didn’t know what it meant or who the recipients were. After investigation, I realized that this is a very prestigious award.
I understand that many journalists and writers who received this award had made numerous sacrifices and had to face up to a lot of challenges.
Although I have given a lot to journalism, freedom of the press and freedom of my people, I asked my self if I had made the same extent of sacrifices. After much thought I decided that this award is not for me, but rather for my people.
Since I was born, I have always lived under dictatorship. I have never experienced freedom before. Now, after five decades of my life, FREEDOM is in front of me.
I would like to point out that my country’s freedom is a fairly recent phenomenon. There are numerous problems that need to be fixed. For 60 million people are living in poverty. Discrimination and injustice prevail everywhere…. There is a lack of rule of law, widespread corruption and hundreds of thousands of people live in refugee camps. This is the reality of my world.
As a journalist I have my responsibility to tell the truth. The award means my responsibility.
I would like to tell the international community that our transition to democracy and people’s freedom is not as smooth as you may think. Those who cannot accept changes are doing everything to block reform efforts. They want to impose indirect control of the media. They are creating a network to intensify the propaganda and to attack political figures and journalists. They are responsible for inciting religious riots, armed conflicts… leading to the displacement of thousands of people… As you may already know.
I understand that after 50 years of dictatorship the road to democracy may not be a smooth one. We are still living under pressure and fear. We have to resist. We have to fight.
This Golden Pen of Freedom Award means to me I am not walking along. We, the people of Myanmar are not walking alone. This Award means YOU are with US.
Thank you on behalf of my struggling people and my country.
Dr Than Htut Aung.