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Hats off to Mizzima News! The Burmese news agency whose head office was recently raided by the Indian authorities is this year's winner of the International Press Institute's (IPI) Free Media Pioneer Award.

A small group of Burmese journalists in exile started up Mizzima in 1998 to tell the world what was going on in closed-off Burma. Today, it has a head office in New Delhi, India, a news bureau in Thailand, and a staff of 30 in India and Thailand, as well as in Bangladesh, China, and even Burma. The group is also an IFEX interim member.

That Mizzima exists at all has been no small feat, considering the wrath it has faced from the Burmese junta. In 2005, for example, Burma's military government pressured the Thai government to relocate Burmese refugees, including journalists, to camps near the Thai-Burmese border, so that it could deny them access to phone lines and the Internet. The next year, the junta clamped down on anybody providing information to foreign news outlets - providing special training to its security forces to identify and arrest foreign media "informants" and introducing phone tapping facilities.

The award will be presented to editor Sein Win during the IPI World Congress in Istanbul this weekend.

Visit these links:
- Mizzima News: and
- IPI:
(8 May 2007)

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