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Student activist Phyo Phyo Aung, currently detained in Pegu’s Tharawaddy prison in connection with the March education protests, has been named winner of the 2015 Citizen of Burma Award.
The annual prize – initiated in 2010 by a US-based organisation of the same name – aims to promote and reward volunteer social services by individuals or organisations in Burma. This year, Phyo Phyo Aung was awarded the title, as well as a US$10,000 cash prize, for her part in the nationwide protests calling for education reforms which ended in a violent crackdown.
Phyo Phyo Aung was among 127 others who were arrested on 10 March when students gathered in the city of Letpadan protesting the National Education Law and demanding greater transparency from the government. Protestors also called for an extension of mandatory free education to middle schools, the right to establish student unions, and freedom for minority groups to be schooled in their own ethnic languages, among other things.
Also winning in the ‘special awards’ category, with $1,000 prize, was Dr Nanda Win, a government hospital chief in the Irrawaddy Division’s Ingapu Township and brainchild of the growing Affordable Dinner/Meal initiative, and Zaw Zaw, founder of the free ‘Mandalay Library’ located in Rangoon.