RFA Burmese, imprisoned filmmaker win Gracie Award for environmental story RFA Burmese's award-winning project focuses on the human toll of climate change in Myanmar.
Photo: RFA

RFA Burmese, imprisoned filmmaker win Gracie Award for environmental story


RFA Korean also received an honorable mention.

WASHINGTON—Radio Free Asia’s (RFA) Burmese Service was today named among the winners at this year’s Gracie Awards for its video report, Ayeyarwady Riverbank Erosion. The project, which examines the human impact of climate change in Myanmar, was produced by Shin Daewe, a prolific documentarian and longtime freelancer to RFA who earlier this year was sentenced to life in prison by a military tribunal in Myanmar. She is widely known for her work spotlighting the challenges facing Myanmar’s environment and the impact of armed conflict on civilians following the military’s 2021 coup.

“All credit for this award goes to the courageous work of RFA Burmese and Shin Daewe,” said RFA Acting Executive Editor Mat Pennington. “Shin Daewe’s coverage of the human toll of climate change in Myanmar has filled a crucial gap for audiences starved of  independent news. RFA is thrilled to see her honored, but deeply saddened by her imprisonment. She is a brave and talented journalist, and we wish she could receive this prestigious international award in person.”

Shin Daewe’s winning report, which aired as part of RFA Burmese’s ongoing environmental series, examines the extensive riverbank erosion affecting the communities living on Myanmar’s main river. Despite the challenges of newsgathering inside the country, Shin Daewe interviewed with villagers who described the devastating effects of erosion on farmland, property and age-old cultural and religious structures. 

For more than a decade, Shin Daewe has worked as an independent filmmaker, freelancing for a range of media outlets including RFA’s Burmese Service. Even in the wake of the military coup, as Myanmar descended into civil war and authorities targeted independent media, she continued her work. In October 2023, Shin Daewe was arrested in Yangon after picking up a drone that her husband says she had ordered online to use in filming a documentary. She was interrogated for two weeks before being charged and transferred to the notorious Insein Prison. In January, she was sentenced to life imprisonment in a closed trial without legal representation for violating Myanmar’s Anti-terrorism Law.

In addition, RFA Korean’s "From Trauma to Triumph: North Korean Women Turn Activist and Guitarist, Pursuing Dreams in the U.K.” earned an honorable mention. The winners will be honored at the 49th Annual Gracie Awards Gala in Los Angeles on May 21. Alliance for Women in Media Foundation (AWMF) is a non-profit that creates educational programs and scholarship initiatives to benefit the public and women in the media.