Winners of the 23rd Human Rights Press Awards announced
Organisers of the Human Rights Press Awrds join Maria Ressa following her keynote speech.

Winners of the 23rd Human Rights Press Awards announced

The Human Rights Press Awards (HRPA) is proud to announce that Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and their colleagues were honoured with this year’s award for Best Investigative Feature Writing, in recognition of their groundbreaking work “Myanmar Burning,” which documented military atrocities against the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were released from a Myanmar prison on May 7 after spending 511 days behind bars for allegedly exposing “state secrets” in the course of reporting the celebrated work, a damning investigation into the massacre of 10 Rohingya men and boys by security forces and armed Buddhist civilians.

View the full list of winners and their entries here

“In an era when politicians denounce journalists as enemies, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo became symbols of the importance of press freedom and the sacrifices made in its pursuit,” said Stephen J. Adler, Editor-in-Chief of Reuters. The news agency will also take home awards in two other English-language categories: Breaking News and Explanatory Feature writing.

This year’s ceremony serves as a stark reminder of urgent threats to press freedom across Asia, embodied by keynote speaker Maria Ressa, co-founder and CEO of the Philippines-based news website, Rappler. Currently free on bail after her second arrest this year, Ressa spoke of the dangers she and her colleagues face as journalists in the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Your reporting matters. Now more than ever. We need to hold the line and show the best of human nature. That is our hope for the future!” remarked Maria Ressa, as she addressed the audience.

Now in its 23rd year, HRPA presents 52 awards recognising outstanding journalism in the area of human rights across Asia. This year saw a record 468 entries in both English and Chinese languages, a 13% increase on last year. A total of 182 entries were submitted in Chinese-language, while 286 were submitted in English.

This year’s entries ranged from high-profile issues such as the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya, to under-reported topics such as the extrajudicial killing of Muslims in India or the hardships faced by stateless minority communities living precarious lives on Cambodia’s waterways.

Our annual People’s Choice Photo Award went to “Three Defendants” by Tsang Hin-chung of Ming Pao, which captured the moment of three activists’ imprisonment. “This photo marks the end of a series of legal processes, but as to whether the democratic process will be put on halt, or how the human rights situation in Hong Kong will change, it still demands the continual attention of journalists,” Tsang said. The winning shot received 41% of all votes.

This year’s English-language Multimedia award went to a team of reporters for the New York Times covering the devastating collapse of a hydropower dam in Laos. Eleven journalists across six countries contributed to the series comprising two documentaries and a week’s worth of news articles. The Chinese-language Multimedia award goes to Taiwan’s Apple Daily team for “MeToo in Taiwan: Stories of Three Migrant Workers.”

The English-language Documentary Video award went to “China’s Hidden Camps” by BBC News, which reveals shocking images from Xinjiang’s so-called “re-education” camps where Muslim minorities have been detained. John Sudworth, one of the winning journalists, said the film “captures the full, shocking reality, and makes a major contribution to the sum of public knowledge about China’s system of Muslim internment camps.” The Chinese-language Documentary Video award went to “The Book Merchant” by Cheng Sze Sze of RTHK, which delves into the power dynamics behind SINO publishing companies.

“The Human Rights Press Awards exemplify the dignity and rights of mankind. When such values are gradually disappearing, these awards and entries are even more precious,” said Bruce Lui, one of the judges for Chinese-language Short Video, Documentary Video, Audio and Multimedia categories.

Lui was among 33 experts in journalism, law and human rights who reviewed entries in 21 categories including breaking news, explanatory features, investigative features and commentary in text and print, multimedia, radio & audio, photography, short video, documentary and student works.

Hosted by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club Hong Kong, Amnesty International and the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Human Rights Press Awards was the first honour of its kind in Asia and remains among the region’s most prestigious professional accolades, celebrating journalism that raises awareness about human rights and highlights threats to freedom.

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(This press release has been revised to correct a sentence that erroneously said the winning entries include the hardships faced by stateless minority communities living precarious lives on Cambodia’s waterways. We apologize for any misunderstandings caused.)

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