New York, November 25, 2015–Journalists from Ethiopia, Malaysia, Paraguay, and Syria were honored Tuesday night at the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 25th annual International Press Freedom Awards for courageous work amid risks such as physical attack, imprisonment, exile, and murder.
“These awardees go forward with their work in the face of threats from repressive governments, drug cartels, Islamic State, and other terrorists and thugs determined to stifle the truth,” said Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. “In recognizing these fearless journalists, we send a message of support to journalists everywhere–and a message to authoritarian actors that we are watching.”
Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group of Syrian citizen journalists that has seen two members murdered by Islamic State, received its award from the editor of The New Yorker and CPJ board member David Remnick. Creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Doonesbury comic strip Garry Trudeau presented Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque (“Zunar”) of Malaysia with his award, the first time CPJ has honored a full-time cartoonist. Suroosh Alvi, co-founder of VICE Media, presented an award to the Zone 9 bloggers, a group of journalists from Ethiopia, of which six were charged with terrorism and imprisoned for more than a year in retaliation for critical reporting. Cándido Figueredo Ruíz, a Paraguayan journalist who has lived under 24-hour police protection for two decades because of his reporting on organized crime, received his award from CPJ board member Isaac Lee, president of news and digital for Univision Communications, Inc. and CEO of Fusion.
Kathy Gannon, special regional correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan at The Associated Press, received the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in the cause of press freedom from Christiane Amanpour, the chief international correspondent for CNN and host of CNN International’s nightly program “Amanpour.” Gannon has covered the region since 1998. In 2014, she was seriously wounded when an Afghan police officer opened fire on the car she was sharing with AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed.
The awards dinner was chaired by Steven R. Swartz, president and CEO of Hearst, and held at New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel. The dinner raised a record $2.04 million for CPJ’s worldwide advocacy–including a special appeal during the evening that was matched by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
“We are most grateful to Steve’s leadership in making this evening such a success,” said Kathleen Carroll, CPJ’s vice chair and the executive editor of The Associated Press.