Saturday, December 9, 2023

CPJ honours courageous journalists fighting repression worldwide

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NEW YORK: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and press freedom supporters celebrated journalists from Georgia, India, Mexico, and Togo at the 33rd annual International Press Freedom Awards (IPFA) in New York, which raised a record-breaking nearly $2.8 million to protect journalists around the world.

The 2023 awardees have experienced government crackdowns, kidnapping, exile, and the rising criminalization of their work, representing global trends that increasingly challenge press freedom. The awardees were: Nika Gvaramia, founder of independent Georgian outlet Mtavari Arkhi, who was recently released from prison; Shahina K.K., senior editor of India’s Outlook magazine; María Teresa Montaño, a prominent investigative reporter from Mexico; and Ferdinand Ayité, editor of Togo’s L’ Alternative newspaper. Exiled Iraqi Kurdish journalist Niyaz Abdullah, who was unable to travel to the United States to receive the 2022 IPFA, also received her award.

CPJ President Jodie Ginsberg celebrated the awardees and journalists around the world “who humble us by continuing to work despite the most impossible of circumstances—because they, like us, believe press freedom is essential for all our freedoms.” Ginsberg also mourned those who have perished in the course of their work—from Cameroon to Haiti and Bangladesh to the Israel-Gaza war, stating that: “Journalists are civilians. We are not targets. We are not combatants. Our pens and our cameras are not weapons of war, but tools of justice.”

This year’s awards dinner was hosted by CNN Correspondent Omar Jimenez, who commended the awardees’ commitment to journalism while facing imprisonment, exile, and other threats to their liberty. Opening the event, Jimenez also highlighted the deadly toll of the Israel-Gaza war, citing CPJ’s research showing that at least 42 journalists and media workers have been killed and noted that “never have so many journalists been killed in such a short period in a single conflict.”

Almar Latour, chief executive officer of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, presented the award to NikaGvaramia, of Georgia, who was the first journalist imprisoned there for his work. “I steadfastly refuse to choose between my homeland and freedom, opting for both—for freedom and for homeland, for both together,” said Gvaramia.

“Journalism has always been my primary passion, driven by a deep desire to understand how politics and power impact people’s lives,” said Shahina K.K., who continues to fight charges under a draconian anti-terror law, received her award from Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey from The New York Times.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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