H.E. Dr Pe Myint-Speaker, Opening Session
Dr Pe Myint is currently the Union Minister of the Ministry of Information. After practicing medicine for 10 years, he turned to full-time writing, publishing 45 books including fiction, non-fiction, translated works, and original writings. In 1995 He won the National Award for Literature (short story) for “Human Parts for Sale and Other Stories.” Dr Pe Myint has worked as the editor of several journals and magazines, including “Literature Journal", the "Tidal Wave" magazine, and "Your Life" magazine, and he was a founding member and editor-in-chief of the "People's Age" journal (2010-13), a weekly news magazine focusing on Myanmar politics. He was a member of the Myanmar Press Council (Interim) at its formation in September 2012, and acted as Vice-president of Myanmar News Media Council since November 2015. He was chairman of Myanmar Literature Development Association since 2015.
Nan Paw Gay-Local Panellist, Session 3
Nan Paw Gay is the acting Development Officer of BNI now and also the editor in chief of Karen Information Center (KIC). She was born in Hpa-an, the capital of Karen State. She finished her studying in Mawlamyine University in 1995.
Nan Paw Gay was starting to work with KIC on April, 2000 and now she works in KIC for 14 years. In the beginning of the year, she worked in KIC as an office staff and reporter. In 2001, she got the journalism training which was arranged by Internews for two times. Then she also attended the political workshop, the management workshop, women empowerment training, feature training, oral history training, and some media forum etc,.
She was to be the director and chief editor of KIC in 2008 and then she joined the BNI bi-annual meeting in 2009 to be a member until now. KIC is now working online media with Burmese and English, and monthly news journal with Karen and Burmese languages by registered. Nan Paw Gay is elected by the annual meeting of BNI as the Development Officer in 2012.
Now she is managing the KIC and also the spoke person of BNI.
Esther Htusan-Local Panellist, Session 3
Esther Htusan, 28, is an ethnic Kachin from the northernmost part of Myanmar. After graduating from the Kachin State University and experiencing civil war in the region, she moved to Yangon to study English and political science.
In 2012, Htusan began her journalism career by working as a freelance producer, fixer and translator for international news agencies covering the parliamentary by-elections. Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi won a seat in the elections, a significant development that paved the way for her League for Democracy to eventually win a parliamentary majority and form the government in 2015.
In 2013, Htusan joined the Associated Press as a reporter. Since then, she has been relentlessly pursuing stories about human rights abuses in Myanmar following a half-century of dictatorship. She has reported on the plight of the Rohingyas, who are Muslims living in the Rakhine state in the country’s western shore but are denied Myanmar citizenship.
Htusan was a member of the Associated Press investigation team that looked into forced labor in Southeast Asia’s fishing industry. Her compassion and resourcefulness in reporting led to some of the most powerful images the world has seen about modern day slavery, including men in a cage on a remote Indonesian island. Htusan helped interviewed forced laborers who spoke of abuses at the hands of their captains and begged the journalists to tell their families back home that they were still alive. Her team’s work won 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Public Service.
Lars Heiberg Bestle-International Panellist, Session 2
As Head of International Media Support's (IMS) programs in Asia, Africa and Latin America, Lars Bestle leads a department of head quarter and field staff carrying out policy advice, program design and implementation in numerous countries facing conflict or democratic transition in three vast and dynamic regions.
Lars Bestle is a media and development specialist with more than 15 years of experience in international development work specialised in independent media, democratization and good governance.
Previously as policy advisor for United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) based in the Asia Pacific regional hub in Bangkok for seven years Lars Bestle worked with 25 country offices, where he advised staff and led initiatives with both government and civil society partners to enhance access to information, e-governance and independence of media in the Asia-Pacific region. From 2002-2005 he was based in Viet Nam for UNDP as program officer after shorter careers with the private internet sector and academia.
Lars Bestle has a Master's degree (cand.scient.soc) in International Development Studies and Communications, with on-the-ground journalistic media experience demonstrating solid expertise in policy advice, research and analysis, project and program design, leadership and development management, capacity building and innovation in the area of media development and access to information.
Toby Mendel-International Panellist, Session 5
Toby Mendel is the Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy, a Canadian-based international human rights NGO that provides legal and capacity building expertise regarding foundational rights for democracy, including the right to information, freedom of expression, the right to participate and the rights to assembly and association. Prior to that, he was for over 12 years Senior Director for Law at ARTICLE 19, a human rights NGO focusing on freedom of expression and the right to information. He has collaborated extensively with inter-governmental actors working in these areas – including the World Bank, the UN and other special international rapporteurs on freedom of expression, UNESCO, the OSCE and the Council of Europe – as well as numerous governments and NGOs in countries all over the world. His work spans a range of areas, including legal reform and analysis, training, advocacy and capacity building. He has also published extensively on a range of freedom of expression, right to information, communication rights and refugee issues. Before joining ARTICLE 19, he worked as a senior human rights consultant with Oxfam Canada and as a human rights policy analyst at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Agneta Söderberg Jacobson-Moderator, Session 3
Agneta Söderberg Jacobson is a media development specialist with more than 20 years of experience in international development work specialised in independent media, gender equality and conflict analysis. As Senior Gender Advisor for Fojo Media Institute (within the Linnaeus University), Sweden’s leading media development institute, Agneta Söderberg Jacobson oversees mainstreaming of gender in all programmes and on an organisational level. Additionally, she manages Fojo’s media development programme in Belarus, and has a key role as Gender Advisor in the IMS/Fojo programme “Media development to support democratic engagement in Myanmar” 2016-2018.
Agneta is a trained journalist and has worked as a correspondent covering the former Soviet republics. She has been with Fojo since 2007 managing projects in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia as well as developing internal quality assurance systems. She takes special interest in conflict-sensitive reporting/peace journalism, the media’s role in reconciliation processes and gender representation in the media. She has also worked for many years as a consultant, specializing in media development and gender-related issues. Publications include Rethink (2003), Security – on whose terms? (2009), Peace Journalism, War and Conflict Resolution (2010) and Equal Power – Lasting Peace (2102).
Pierre François DOCQUIR-International Panellist, Session 1
Pierre François DOCQUIR (PhD) is a researcher and expert in the fields of Human Rights Law, Internet and Media Law and Regulation. He has joined the freedom of expression NGO ARTICLE 19 (www.article19.org) in 2015, as Senior Legal Officer. He previously served as vice-president of the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel in French-speaking Belgium (2007-2015) and was a researcher at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, where he obtained his PhD in Law in 2009. He was a lawyer (‘avocat’) at the Brussel’s Bar (2000-2004). His publications include a volume on the evolution of media regulation in the age of convergence, a book on comparative free speech law (US-ECHR), and numerous articles on the protection of Human Rights in the digital context, the evolution of media landscapes and media policy, the European Convention on Human Rights and various aspects of freedom of expression in worlds that are digitized – or not. At ARTICLE 19, Pierre François focuses on media freedom, media regulation, and the evolution of media policy in the context of convergence. He currently is a member of the Council of Europe’s MSI-MED Committee of experts on media pluralism and transparency of ownership.
H. E. Mr Staffan Herrström- Speaker, Opening Session
Mr Herrström is the present Ambassador of Sweden to the Kingdom of Thailand, the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of Lao and the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. At various times, he was previously the Swedish Ambassador to Poland, Vietnam and Tanzania, and he served as Deputy Director General to SIDA, among many other appointments. From 1983-1986, he worked as a journalist for Göteborgs-Posten.
Daw Thin Thin Thar (Myanmar Journalists Union)- Local Panellist, Session 3
Thin Thin Thar has been a novelist since 1994 and an editor since 1998. She has published seven books - six novels and one collection of short stories. She has worked for Lifestyle Magazine, Ma Hay Thi Magazine as an editor, and then Mandalay FM radio and Cherry FM radio as a pogrammer, and she now works as an editor in charge at The Street View Journal.
U Khin Maung Win- Local Panellist, Session 1
U Khin Maung Win participated in the nationwide demonstration led by students in August-September 1988 demanding democracy and greater freedom. Following the military coup on 18 September 1988 he left for the Thai-Myanmar border and joined the student organisation All Burma Students’ Democratic Front (ABSDF). He was mainly responsible for the information department of the ABSDF. He is one of founding members of the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB), which was set up in 1992 in Oslo. He was appointed Deputy Executive Director of the DVB in 2001. Since 2012, DVB has been gradually moving back to Myanmar and now registered as DVB Multimedia Group. Khin Maung Win is now working in DVB Yangon Office. While studying his Master’s Degree on Human Rights in Thailand between 1998-2001, he joined Asian Net Work for Free Election (ANFREL) and monitored elections in Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand. He covered elections in Scandinavia for DVB.
U Soe Myint- Moderator, Session 6
U Soe Myint is the founder and editor-in-chief of Mizzima Media. Soe Myint was in exile for 24 years while the country was under military dictatorship. Mizzima was the first exile media to move back inside Myanmar in January 2012, after the country opened up for democratic changes. Mizzima Media Co. Ltd. produces daily and weekly newspapers in Myanmar, a weekly business magazine in English, television programmess on business, sports, women and entertainment and websites in both Myanmar and English. Mizzima also prides itself on its active cooperation with other national and international stakeholders in the media reform process in Myanmar. Soe Myint’s publications include the 2003 release Burma File: A Question of Democracy, as well as numerous articles in various newspapers and magazines. Soe Myint is a regular speaker and invited guest at national and international forums on media in Myanmar.
Zayar Hlaing- Moderator, Session 2
Zayar Hlaing is an editor and co-founder of Mawkun magazine which was started in 2012 August, four days after press censorship was abolished in Myanmar. Mawkun is the one and only current affair and in-depth monthly news magazine in Myanmar. He was one of the co-founders and an editor of Yangon Press International (YPI) news group which was founded in 2010 January. He reported and edited news features especially from ethnic areas around the country.
He joined to the Kumudra weekly (later changed the Modern weekly) and worked as a reporter in 2005. At the end of 2008, he resigned from the Modern weekly and worked as a freelance journalist. He contributed news photo, news video, radio reports and news feature to international news organization.
He is also strongly involved in development of media society in the country. He has extensive experience in both journalism practice and training. Since 2010, he has conducted media trainings all over the country. He was chairman of working committee for Myanmar Journalism Institute (MJI), the first-ever independent journalism institute in Myanmar and board of director and lead trainer for Center for Myanmar Media Development journalism school (CMMD). Sometimes he gives a journalism lecture at Myanmar Institute of Theology (MIT). He was elected as general secretary of Myanmar Journalist Network in August 2015 and became member of News Media Council which was founded in October 2015.
Aye Hnin Swe- Local Panellist, Session 6
Daw Aye Hnin Swe (aka Rose Swe) is the Managing Director of Mango Media, Mangosteen PR and Wave Digital. A well-known businesswoman in the Myanmar media and advertising world, she started her career with Bates Myanmar in client service and headed the media team. She subsequently set up Zenith Media Myanmar as General Manager. In 2004, she started Mango Marketing Services Co.Ltd. with her partner Lynn Lynn Tin Htun as well as pioneered a private International School and pre-primary school in Yangon. She founded Mango Media, Mangosteen PR and Wave Digital as separate entities under the Mango Myanmar Group.
As a prominent and successful business woman and leader in the media and advertising arena, she has embarked on developing women’s empowerment initiatives. She is also a founding member of Advertising Agencies Association of Myanmar (AAAM). She has an undergraduate degree in Science from the University of Yangon with Post Graduate Diploma in International Management from the AP Management Cooperative Programme (APMCP) at Capilano University, British Columbia, Canada.
Other speaker bios coming soon