PRESS RELEASE –16 April 2024

The renowned Northern Irish peace activist Mairead Corrigan Maguire (herself recipient of the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize) has nominated the UK-exiled Burmese human rights activist and genocide scholar Dr Maung Zarni for the prestigious prize.

On the eve of the Burmese traditional New Year this week, the Forces of Renewal Southeast Asia (FORSEA) and the Free Rohingya Coalition (FRC) jointly announced Maguire’s nomination, based on Zarni’s “impactful and tireless activism for peace and harmony among human communities over three decades”.

Maguire’s nomination letter to the Nobel committee highlighted Zarni’s activism both for democracy in Myanmar and for “non-violence campaigners for peace and freedom from Tibet, East Timor (now Timor Leste), Nigeria, India, Thailand, Palestine and the Jewish diaspora”.

While Zarni says that the Nobel prize “has been deeply tarnished” by some awards, “of which the late Henry Kissinger was only the most infamous”, he adds, that “as a radical anti-imperialist, I am most proud to be Maguire’s choice”.

Mairead Maguire has long been a champion of anti-imperialist causes, including standing up for Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, the oppressed Palestinians and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Among her past nominees are Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange.


Marilyn Langlois, fellow member of Johan Galtung’s TRANSCEND network wrote:

“Zarni became part of our family when he came to the US in 1988, and drew my daughter and me into his pioneering activism with the Free Burma Coalition, opposing military dictatorship in his home country, a few years later.  Ever since then, he has been a teacher and role model for me in advocacy for positive peace–not just the absence of war but affirming the dignity and self-determination of all people suffering the ravages of oppression and structural violence.”

Dr Helen Jarvis (Cambodia), Vice-President of the Permanent People’s Tribunal, and recipient of the 2021 Lifetime Award from the International Association of Genocide Scholars says:

“Forthright and unabashed straightforwardness mixed with compassion were the characteristics that first struck me, when in 2013 in Bremen, Germany, I worked with Zarni as a fellow judge on the Second People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka. Over the past decade I have been proud to work alongside him in many different campaigns, witnessing his continued principled commitment to stand the oppressed of this earth in the fight for freedom and justice.”

Isham Rais, Malaysian film director, stand-up comedian, political and social activist, and FORSEA co-founder wrote:

“I have known Zarni – The Enemy of the State – via FORSEA – an academician – a solid Public Intellectual – a thoroughbred activist not only for Myanmar but for the human race. He raised the Rohingya issue globally and stood up for the rights of the Palestinians – yes he is the enemy of oppression.”

Dato Sri Saifuddin Abdullah, Malaysian Member of Parliament, former Foreign Minister and Chairman of Parti BERSATU’ International Bureau said:

“Zarni is an activist-academic who is very committed to the struggle of the Myanmar people to uphold freedom, human rights and democracy. His approach is consultative and inclusive, with a clear people-centred end game. He does not limit his works only for his countrymen and women, but extended it to the oppressed around the globe.”

Penny Green, FAcSS, Professor of Law and Globalisation & Director, International State Crime Initiative | Queen Mary University of London said:

In the world of peace activism Zarni is simply outstanding. Fearless, compassionate and with a razor sharp intellect, his life has been dedicated to improving the lives of those most vulnerable to the vagaries of genocide and state violence. At great cost to his personal safety and security Zarni has exposed the genocidal crimes of the Myanmar state and organised tirelessly against the Israeli regime and its campaign of Palestinian erasure.

His uncompromising voice in defence of the persecuted, the oppressed and those in struggle against injustice has animated and inspired peace movements across the world from Myanmar, Timor L’Este  and Tibet, through to India Nigeria and Palestine.

Naw May Oo Mutraw, Advisor to the Karen National Union & Women’s League of Burma; former Coordinator, Free Burma Coalition (2000-2014), wrote:

“An unparalleled freedom thinker and fighter, certainly among the Burmese, Zarni’s commitment to humanity is tried and tested. He has still stood firm fearlessly in the face of ostracism and slander over the few decades I have worked with him. He’s one of the most analytical minds with the kindest of hearts, a rare combination for our time. He has set the standard of liberation as a person and as an intellectual for the rest of us.”


For more information contact or


Maung Zarni FORSEA

Maung Zarni

Maung Zarni (or Zarni, as the Burmese have only one given names) (60) is co-founder and coordinator of several international activist networks and platforms, including the Free Burma Coalition (1995-2004), the FORSEA (2018 – present) and the Free Rohingya Coalition (2018-present). Zarni now serves as an adviser to Burma’s oldest ethnic resistance organization, the Karen National Union (founded in 1947).

Zarni was born and raised in Mandalay (Burma) in an extended military family to an educator mother and socially conscious businessman father under General Ne Win’s “socialist” military dictatorship. As a young teenager, he learned community organizing from his parents who led self-help communal initiatives for their residential neighbourhood. In July 1988, on the eve of the nationwide uprisings known as 8.8.88 (after the uprising date 8 August 1988), Zarni left his native Myanmar for California, USA where he enrolled as a foreign student on a Non-resident Tuition Scholarship offered by the Graduate Division of the University of California at Davis.

During his 17-years as an asylee in the US, Zarni held a tenure-track assistant professorship in educational foundations at National-Louis University in Chicago, a position he gave up to be a full-time activist based in Berkeley, California. He was married to Annie Leonard, a renowned American environmentalist and the acclaimed author of “The Story of Stuff”. Together they have a daughter Dewi (24), an activist legal researcher who specializes in prisoners’ rights in California.

In 2005, Zarni relocated to the United Kingdom as a visiting research fellow in the Department of International Development at Oxford University, in hopes of resuming his academic career. He subsequently worked as an associate professor of Asian Studies at the Universiti Brunei Darussalem, but resigned over censorship of his public engagement on the Burmese genocide of Rohingya. Post-resignation, he also declined an offer of a Scholars-at-risk fellowship at the London School of Economics in 2014 to do anti-genocide activism full-time.

He re-married a fellow British scholar Dr Natalie Brinham, a senior research associate with the Migration Mobilities Bristol, a specialist research institute at the University of Bristol. Together, they co-authored a groundbreaking 3-year study “The Slow-Burning Genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya” published by the University of Washington School of Law in 2014. The couple live in Kent, with their daughter Nilah (14), where both pursue their scholarship and activism on genocides, including Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza and the continuing genocidal conditions of Rohingya in Myanmar.

Posted by FORSEA