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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2857

Sri Lanka-based Burmese political weblog wins "Best Asia Blog" award for 2008

Daya Gamage – US Bureau Asian Tribune

Washington, D.C. 18 January ( If one's life is threatened for expressing ones views of one’s country of birth through the mass media get into another country to create a 'weblog' or 'internet newspaper' which can have an impact on the international community.

Here in the United States the Department of States’ research and intelligence unit 24/7 keeps track of all the newspapers published in every corner of this globe and what every weblog and internet media say not only about the United States but also about other nations and their governments. Taking note of what is expressed in the internet the United States Department of State takes note and acts on those. In fact, the Department shares the information with the U.S. Congress.

The Department mainly focuses on weblogs and internet sites that are operating from foreign soils disseminating information about the countries to which the weblog and internet cite operators originally belonged to.

This is exactly what a Burmese (or Myanmar) Buddhist monk did in creating a weblog from a foreign soil with a worldwide impact while engaged in tertiary education in that foreign soil.

The weblog of venerable Burmese Buddhist monk, Ashin Mettacara, based in Sri Lanka for tertiary education, has bagged the "Best Asia Blog" award for 2008.

The weblog, ( ) is hosted by this Buddhist monk contains political writings on Burma which he is unable to write from his homeland because of persecution and threat to his life from the Burmese military regime.

Asian Tribune is aware that the US Department of State and the foreign relations committees of the Senate and House of the U.S. Congress have taken note of the information disseminated by this weblog to formulate their policies toward Burma.

And, that’s one way Western democracies work to exercise pressure on other countries and their governments on issues that they consider are related to good governance. Democratic norms, human rights, counter-terrorism, refugees, civilian casualties in domestic battles between warring factions etc.

Publisher of the Weblog Awards, which puts up an online poll on various categories of weblogs, Kevin Aylward, says that Ashin Mettacara's weblog has gained maximum votes of 3,383. It stood first with 41 per cent of the total voters voting for it in an online poll conducted since November.

Ashin Mattacara (27), went to Sri Lanka to study Buddhist religious scriptures and created his weblog in 2004, focusing on religious writings. But, the weblog took a decisive turn in September 2007, when Buddhist monks led mass demonstrations in Burma, with the site increasingly filled with political writings on Burma.

"I am proud that my weblog has been selected as the best in 2008, and I would like to attribute the award to both my Burmese and international friends, who have voted," Ashin Mettacara told Mizzima, a premier internet site that operates outside Burma which carry that country’s political news.

In the wake of the public protests in September 2007, several Internet-savvy Burmese youth, both in Burma and around the world, created websites and blogs, and filled them with information on the protests and the subsequent crackdown by the military junta.
Ashin Mettaraca's blog was among the outstanding blogs that provided much needed information on the protests to the Burmese people as well as to the international community.

"I wanted to tell the whole world about the situation in Burma. That is the main reason for creating this blog," Ashin Mettacara had told Mizzima earlier.

Like Ashin Mettacara, several young Burmese bloggers, played an important role in publishing information on the September 2007 protests as well as the humanitarian crisis in the aftermath of the deadly Cyclone Nargis in early May 2008.

It is due to this reason, Burma's military rulers have hunted down bloggers and others involved in the dissemination of information and sentenced them to long prison terms.

Aylward, who hosts the world's largest blog competition, with a total Weblog Awards for 48 categories, said the reason for organizing the competition was to create awareness among the public and draw attention to the blogs that were committed to write about such issues.

Ashin Mettacara has completed his B.A and M.A degrees in Sri Lanka's Buddhist and Pali University.

- Asian Tribune -

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