Two Kachin youth activists working with Kachin internally displaced people (IDPs) have been chosen as recipients of the Freedom of Expression Award for 2019 by PEN Myanmar.
Seng Nu Pan and Paw Lu were given the award in Yangon on December 28 for practicing freedom of expression in their work.
A Myitkyina Township court sentenced Seng Nu Pan and Paw Lu to 15 days in prison on September 2, 2019, for their leading roles in a street performance to mark the eighth anniversary of the resumed war in Kachin State. Paw Lu was handed three additional months in prison when he gave the judge a set of broken scales to symbolize the flawed justice system.
“If a government wants to be a good government, they must accept the voice of the people. Our activities are not threatening to the government,” Seng Nu Pan told KNG. “If the government doesn’t want to accept any criticism, it’s impossible to be a good government.”
Seng Nu Pan was released from Myitkyina prison on September 16 last year and Paw Lu was released from the same prison on December 16.
They both pointed out how in Kachin State human rights activists have continued to be put in detention, charged with lawsuits, threatened, and targeted with violence and even murder.
“We have yet to reach our goal, so we have to try and move forward. I will try my best for our people as long as I am alive,” Paw Lu told KNG.
Nearly 100,000 IDPs are still staying in more than 130 camps, which have formed since clashes between the Kachin Independence Army and the Burma Army resumed in 2011.