International Press Freedom Awards

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Next week, the Committee to Protect Journalists will be honoring four journalists from around the world at the International Press Freedom Awards, an annual recognition of courageous reporting. As the awardees from Ecuador, Egypt, and Turkey make the journey to attend the awards and benefit dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City on November 26, one of the awardees will be absent.

Tibetans protest in Rongwo township in western China's Qinghai province November 9, calling for freedom from Chinese rule. (AP)

Not unusually, an already confusing situation in Tibet just got worse. Twenty-seven Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against Chinese this month alone, according to Human Rights Watch. That's almost one a day. Against this chaotic backdrop, Chinese authorities have issued an arrest order for a missing monk who helped film a 2008 documentary about life in Tibet, according to his film company, Filming for Tibet.

CPJ supporters will know that we just honored self-taught Tibetan filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen with an International Press Freedom Award, recognizing his courage documenting life under Chinese rule with full knowledge that he would face severe repercussions (he is serving a six-year jail term--you can join our petition for his release here). So we've been following with concern the latest reports that his assistant on that project, the monk Jigme Gyatso, has been missing, reportedly detained, since September.

Mauri König (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

The battle for a free press sometimes feels like a war between indignation and intimidation. Journalists learn of abuses of power, crime, or corruption, and--indignant--they speak out. In response, the perpetrators of those abuses--be they government officials or criminals--try to intimidate the journalists into silence with threats, lawsuits, jail, or even murder. Last night, the Committee to Protect Journalists paid tribute to a handful of journalists for whom indignation is a driving force, no matter the scale of intimidation.

This video companion to Attacks on the Press recounts the story of Mexican journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas, who works in one of the world's most dangerous places. (3:26)

Read the Attacks on the Press 2011 country profile on Mexico.

Belarusian website Charter 97 attacked, shut down

Charter 97 Editor-in-Chief Natalya Radina at CPJ's 2011 International Press Freedom Awards. (Muzaffar Suleymanov/CPJ)

It's not unusual for Charter 97, a Belarusian pro-opposition news website, to be disrupted online. CPJ has documented intimidations, threats, and arrests against its staff members, the murder of its founder, and denial-of-service attacks against the website.

CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards dinner took place at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images for CPJ)

The Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria might seem like an odd venue to stage a call for resistance. Nine hundred people in tuxedos and gowns. Champagne and cocktails. Bill Cunningham snapping photos. This combination is generally more likely to coax a boozy nostalgia than foment a revolution. But the journalists honored last night at CPJ's annual International Press Freedom Awards had a clear message to their colleagues: Fight the power.

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Gwen Ifill, right, interviewed Dan Rather about the role of information in a free society and the state of
American journalism. (Jeremy Bigwood)

As he exited his car and entered the performance center, the man in the dark pinstriped suit caught the attention of a few people, who trailed after him. The small crowd greeted him respectfully and enthusiastically, as someone they felt they had known all their lives. In return he shook hands calmly and asked the names of his greeters. He was veteran television news anchor and reporter Dan Rather.

Rather is this year's recipient of the Committee to Protect Journalists' Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in defending press freedom. At an event Thursday commemorating CPJ's three decades of battling for free expression, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Rather was interviewed by PBS's Gwen Ifill, where he discussed today's challenges to independent journalism as well as his own career.

Namibians wanted independent journalism, Lister says. (The Namibian)

Namibia's information minister recently announced that a decade-long state advertising boycott of The Namibian, the country's largest daily newspaper, would finally end. An action intended to punish the paper for its independence had failed.

It was back in December 2000 that former President Sam Nujoma told his cabinet to block all government advertising and purchases of the leading daily because he perceived the newspaper to be anti-governmental. Nujoma's decree caused the paper to lose 6 percent of its advertising revenue and 650 single-copy sales to government officials, The Namibian's founding editor and former CPJ award winner Gwen Lister said.  

New York, July 26, 2011-- Recent news reports that Iranian authorities have added a year to the politicized five-year sentence currently being served by journalist Mohammad Davari is the latest example of vindictive government policies against critical journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Shamsolvaezin's mother faces confiscation of her home if he does not report to prison. (AP)

New York, July 20, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists is dismayed to learn that veteran Iranian journalist Mashallah Shamsolvaezin has been summoned to serve a 16-month prison term that was unjustly levied in 2010.

Shamsolvaezin is a journalist, political analyst, deputy chairman of the now-defunct Iranian Journalists Association, and spokesman for the Committee for the Defense of Freedom of the Press. In December 2010, he was sentenced to 16 months in prison on charges of "insulting the president" and "weakening the Islamic Republic regime."

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