Online Myanmar Library Founder David Arnott Dies

By The Irrawaddy 8 December 2020

David Arnott, the founder of the Online Burma/Myanmar Library and a staunch supporter of democracy and human rights movements in Myanmar, died on Monday in the Thai border town of Mae Sot, which has been his home since 2004. He was 77.

Born in England, Arnott will be remembered for establishing the OBL, a non-commercial, open database of information from multiple contemporary and historical sources on Myanmar.

The library is often a starting point for those studying the country with approximately 50,000 websites and links to documents, of which about a quarter are in Burmese.

The site has around 100 categories, such as health, land, economy, environment, law and constitution, foreign relations and history. The library said it is “by far the largest single source of organised” online material on Myanmar.

It says it is the only site with digital versions of Myanmar’s government-controlled daily newspapers in Burmese and English dating back to 2003.

The latest upload to the site was on September 26.

OBL grew out of the Burma Peace Foundation, which was co-founded in London in 1987 by Arnott to mediate during the country’s armed conflicts.

It provided information and contacts to the United Nations and supported democratic activists that lobbied the General Assembly. The library was launched in October 2001 and moved to Mae Sot in 2004.

Larry Jagan, a Thai-based journalist who follows Myanmar, said he was deeply saddened, describing Arnott as “a tireless campaigner for justice in Myanmar and a very dear friend”.

He posted on Facebook that Arnott was valuable contact to understand developments, especially behind the scenes, on innumerable international issues, especially human and workers’ rights.

“Always accessible, always informed and always erudite. Rest in peace,” Jagan said.

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