Norway Day 2: The Curse of the Dolphins

An early start this morning as it could be a big day. The Democratic Voice of Burma are one of the favourites for the Nobel Peace Prize along with Liu Xiaobo, the political dissident currently jailed in China for his lifelong peaceful struggle for freedom and democracy in China. We get to theoffice just after 7am and Norwegian TV NRK1 are already doing the first interviews of the day. The announcement to be made live on TV from here in Norway by the Norwegian Nobel Committee is due at 11.00am so a tense few hours to fill until then… well, actually no, it’s just another day in the office as TV and radio broadcasts need to be prepared but with more and more media turning up throughout the morning there is hope around that this time we won’t be undone by the dolphins (‘The Cove’ beat ‘Burma VJ’ to the Oscar – ed).


As the countdown to the announcement approaches, there are several film crews, photographers and journalists in the office waiting to hopefuly catch the moment that DVB wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Deputy Executive Director, Khin Maung Win, is interviewed live on NRK TV just before the announcement is made before all our eyes are firmly fixed to the TV screen while the watching TV and photographers’ cameras and firmly fixed on us. And the winner is… damn those pesky dolphins.

Liu Xiaobo, the  Chinese intellectual, writer, and human rights activist who called for democratic reforms and the end of one-party rule in China is one of the most deserved winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in years. He has served as President of the Independent Chinese PEN Center since 2003 but is currently serving as a political prisoner in China. On 8 December 2008, Liu was detained in response to his participation with Charter 08. He was formally arrested on 23 June 2009, on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” He was tried on the same charges on 23 December 2009 and sentenced to eleven years’ imprisonment and two years’ deprivation of political rights on 25 December 2009. Now during his 4th prison term he is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, thus becoming the second detained Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. When is the world going to wake up to this?

As the world’s media slowly slip away from the office it’s back to work and just another day in the office, but naturally some reflection on what might have been. Just to be recognised as the front runner for such an award is an incredible achievement and shows just how vital the work done by DVB and all undercover journalists in Burma is. The rest of the day is spent documenting a day in the life of DVB and more meetings and planning, before heading to the airport to catch a plane to Bergen, where tomorrow I’ll be meeting former political prisoners who are now living there and hearing their stories. Win or bust the show must go on.

Norway Day 1: Norway & Nobel – A Perfect Blend

After a summer recess longer than even the politicians can manage, we are finally back on the road. A great feeling. Back doing what we do best. Not that we’ve just been sitting around enjoying the sun – far from it in fact, as the last few months have seen Amnesty International launch a major campaign for political prisoners using our work and saw us photograph the British Deputy Prime Minister. But all this time the really important work has been continuing in the background – can’t reveal what yet but one day we will. Justice will prevail.

The Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) in Oslo, Norway

An early start as we’re Oslo bound (again) for a catch up with friends plus meetings at DVB before flying to Bergen on Saturday to meet with Ma Kaythi Aye, Ko Cho Cho Tun and the many other former political prisoners living there. A quick three day trip before the election to keep the pressure up and it started in the usual rush of near missed buses, trains and flights but we got here in the end. The only major hiccup was whisky. Not the blend – just too much whisky. But this time not a drop was drunk and my over exuberance got the better of me and as I strolled through customs in Oslo airport I was pulled aside and asked to explain what I was doing with 4 bottles of whisky? The simple answer “I’m Burmese” didn’t wash. A £100 fine and 3 bottles confiscated was not the start I was looking for. Now how are we going to celebrate winning the Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow?

DVB broadcasts TV and radio programmes back into Burma

We finally made it to the office and it was great to see everyone again. An afternoon chatting and planning and the usual friendly family atmosphere and just time for some relaxed shots around the office as the day unfolds – no portraits or work documenting today as we’ve already photographed the former political prisoners here in Oslo and at DVB last year. A relaxed evening spent with friends at Ma Thida’s apartment and her kind hospitality ahead of the big announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize tomorrow – another reason why we are here. DVB are one of the main contenders if the stories are to be believed and 19 years after Daw Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded hers it couldn’t come too soon for DVB. Naturally I am biased but it would be an extraordinarily worthwhile victory if it was to be awarded to them – a timely victory at the very least as the elections are now exactly 1 month away. I am lucky to be here and even luckier to be able to work with them. Keep your fingers crossed and tune in to the announcement live as a webcast on the Nobel website.

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