Cape Diamond - Myanmar

You'll never walk alone: A young journalist between state repressions and the football pitch

written by

Henrik Rampe

If one types the name Cape Diamond in the Google search bar, one might end up on a website about high-priced jewelry. Also, a South African hotel resort is named Cape Diamond.

A 24 year old journalist has given himself this code name to work undetected and as freely as possible. It is no easy undertaking. Cape Diamond lives and works in Myanmar (also known as Burma). But he is at home in social networks. 6.629 tweets blink up on his twitter account. Last month alone Cape Diamond has posted 86 instagram pictures and 131 facebook texts.

After independence in 1948 and a short democratic phase, the country became a military dictatorship from 1962 to 2010. During this time, the United Nations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in Myanmar. Cape Diamond was raised in Yangon, the largest city and former capital of an international isolated country in Southeast Asia. For the first time a nominally civilian government was installed in 2011. In this context the government ended its prior practice of censorship, and the following year, private daily newspapers were allowed to publish for the first time in almost 50 years. Most reporters had little or no training in journalism or ethics.

As a member of the so-called generation Z, Cape Diamond has been only interested in online media. Once he finished high school the young Burmese started a short journalism course for only a few weeks. Faster than he wanted, Cape Diamond was thrown in at the deep end. Four years ago the situation of the Rohingya ethnic minority became a worldwide media event. The United Nations classified the Muslim Rohingya as the "most persecuted minority in the world". As stateless people, they have no rights and are persecuted. In the last five years nearly one million Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh or to other surrounding countries.

In this time Cape Diamond started working as a fixer. He received orders from international media institutions as the “most contributed and reporting journalist on the crisis in Myanmar“. His specialty has been extended, but his focus is still the ethnic conflict in Myanmar: “I am mostly covering human rights, crisis and conflicts in my home country “, Cape Diamond says. Currently he is working as a freelance correspondent for the American news agency Associated Press (AP). He also did single projects as a documentary producer for Al Jazeera, ABC News and CBS. His longest documentary is named 'Myanmar's Killing Fields' and provides an exclusive access to Rohingya activists' secret recordings, which provide evidence of years of repression and mass murder by the Myanmar authorities. The film was honored 2018 with the British Academy Television Award (BAFTA). Periodically Cape Diamond also writes for different international newspapers in English. His works can be found on CNN, The L.A. Times, The Guardian and The Washington Post.

Restrictions during his journalistic work are Cape Diamond's steady companions. A list by reporter without borders ranked the press freedom in countries all over the world. Myanmar is ranked 139th (out of 180). “Friends of mine were in jail for their works and some fled the country. I cannot freely criticize the Government and the country's military “, says Cape Diamond and describes the power structures: “The military still has the power to control the country and the press. There are many lawsuits against the journalists in the country regarding their reports about the crisis, conflicts and the military in the country. That is why self-censorship is becoming a problem in Myanmar. Cape Diamond does not want to be intimidated by this. He feels adequately protected by his employers. In the past he has worked frequently with German media companies. From 2016 to 2018 he was the news assistant of the dpa correspondent in Myanmar. He is currently reporting about the Corona Crisis in his homeland for the ZDF: “Unfortunately, it's all in English. I wish I was reporting in German. I was learning German in 2016 and stopped. But I really want to continue my German lessons soon.“ He knows Germany not only from the German textbooks. Cape Diamond spent his last Christmas in Germany and was fascinated by German Christmas markets. And he gets really emotional when it comes to football. Cape Diamond has been in Munich, in Madrid and London only to see the big football stadiums. His heart belongs to Liverpool FC – he says. The anthem of the club could also be the credo of the young cosmopolitan: “You'll never walk alone!” And what was his best moment in life so far? “When the football player Cesc Fabregas followed me back on Twitter.“ A young Burmese journalist, restricted by an illiberal media system and supported by a Spanish World Cup Winner. A cross-border journalist – in the truest sense of the word.

To the article

Internet blackout in Myanmar

By Henrik Rampe & Cape Diamond

More Biografies