24 November 2008

Honoring Press Freedom Fighters

This week in New York City, the Committee to Protect Journalists will honor five journalists with its 2008 International Press Freedom Awards. They are two journalists from Afghanistan and one each from Cuba, Iraq and Uganda. A special award is also being given to a media lawyer from Zimbabwe.

The two journalists from Afghanistan are Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad, the director and deputy director of Pajhwok Afghan News, Afghanistan's leading independent news agency.

Award recipient Bilal Hussein of Iraq is a photographer for the Associated Press who was jailed by the U.S. military for two years without charges.

The Cuban award recipient is independent journalist Maseda Gutierrez who is in prison in Cuba for writing about issues ignored by the official state press.

The Ugandan recipient is Andrew Mwenda, founder and managing editor of The Independent newsmagazine in Uganda. He has faced repeated government harassment.

Mwenda was quoted in a recent VOA report as saying: “You can be sure that no matter what the state may do, whether they threaten to jail us, to torture us, or even to kill us, we strongly believe that we would rather die yesterday, defending the cause of freedom of expression, than live for the next one-thousand years acquiescing to tyranny.”

In addition to the five press freedom awards, the committee is also honoring media and human rights lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa from Zimbabwe. Mtetwa has defended numerous journalists against charges brought by President Robert Mugabe's government.

We here at the News Blog congratulate them all. You can read more about the International Press Freedom Awards at the Committee to Protect Journalists website.

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