Four fearless journalists from Brazil, China, Kyrgyzstan, and Liberia were honored Tuesday, November 20, evening at the Committee to Protect Journalists' 22nd International Press Freedom Awards benefit dinner, an annual recognition of courageous journalism, hosted by PBS senior correspondent Gwen Ifill.
Award winners Dhondup Wangchen, a Tibetan documentary filmmaker imprisoned in China, and Azimjon Askarov, a reporter with Ferghana News serving a life sentence in Kyrgyzstan, were honored in absentia, their plaques to be held until they are released. Journalist and author Kati Marton, who presented the awards to Wangchen and Askarov, asked guests to join the more than 8,000 people who had signed online petitions demanding their freedom.
Mauri König, an investigative reporter with Brazil's Gazeta do Povo, whose probing of human rights and corruption has resulted in him being attacked and threatened, received his award from Bloomberg Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler. Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of The Associated Press, presented the award to Mae Azango of FrontPage Africa and New Narratives. Azango's reporting on the sensitive issue of female genital mutilation in Liberia pushed her into hiding this year. CPJ also paid homage to Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, by awarding him the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for his unwavering commitment to press freedom. The award was presented by Jacob Weisberg, editor-in-chief of Slate Group.
The awards dinner was chaired by David Boies, chairman of the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, a longtime CPJ supporter whose inspiring remarks focused on the importance of a free press and its relevance to the rule of law.
The event, held at New York's Waldorf-Astoria hotel, raised a record $1.6 million for CPJ's work denouncing anti-press violations, providing assistance to targeted journalists, and advocating for press freedom worldwide. The nearly 900 distinguished guests at the event also pledged support for CPJ's Campaign Against Impunity during a special appeal that raised just over $100,000, most of which will be matched two-to-one by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
CPJ 2012 International Press Freedom Awardees:
Mauri König, Brazil
Dhondup Wangchen, China
Azimjon Askarov, Kyrgyzstan
Mahmoud Abou Zeid, Shawkan (Egypt), Malini Subramaniam (India), Can Dündar (Turkey), Óscar Martínez (El Salvador)
Cándido Figueredo Ruíz (Paraguay), Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (Syria), Zone 9 Bloggers (Ethiopia), Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque, “Zunar” (Malaysia)
Aung Zaw (Burma), Siamak Ghaderi (Iran), Mikhail Zygar (Russia), Ferial Haffajee (South Africa)
Janet Hinostroza (Ecuador), Bassem Youssef (Egypt), Nedim Şener (Turkey), Nguyen Van Hai (Vietnam)
Mauri König (Brazil), Dhondup Wangchen (China), Azimjon Askarov (Kyrgyzstan), Mae Azango (Liberia)
Mansoor al-Jamri (Bahrain), Natalya Radina (Belarus), Javier Valdez Cárdenas (Mexico), Umar Cheema (Pakistan)
Mohammad Davari (Iran), Nadira Isayeva (Russia), Dawit Kebede (Ethiopia), Laureano Márquez (Venezuela)
Mustafa Haji Abdinur (Somalia), Naziha Réjiba (Tunisia), Eynulla Fatullayev (Azerbijan), J.S. Tissainayagam (Sri Lanka)
Bilal Hussein (Iraq), Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad (Afghanistan), Andrew Mwenda (Uganda), Hector Maseda Gutiérrez (Cuba)
Dmitry Muratov (Russia), Mazhar Abbas (Pakistan), Adela Navarro Bello (Mexico), Gao Qinrong (China)
Jesús Abad Colorado (Colombia), Jamal Amer (Yemen), Madi Ceesay (The Gambia), Atwar Bahjat (Iraq)
Galima Bukharbaeva (Uzbekistan), Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe), Lúcio Flávio Pinto (Brazil), Shi Tao (China)
Svetlana Kalinkina (Belarus), Aung Pwint and Thaung Tun (Burma), Alexis Sinduhije (Burundi), Paul Klebnikov (United States)
Abdul Samay Hamed (Afghanistan), Aboubakr Jamai (Morocco), Musa Muradov (Russia), Manuel Vázquez Portal (Cuba)
Ignacio Gómez (Colombia), Tipu Sultan (Bangladesh), Irina Petrushova (Kazakhstan), Fesshaye Yohannes (Eritrea)
Jiang Weiping (China), Geoff Nyarota (Zimbabwe), Horacio Verbitsky (Argentina), Mazen Dana (West Bank)
Zeljko Kopanja (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Modeste Mutinga (DRC), Steven Gan (Malaysia), Mashallah Shamsolvaezin (Iran)
Jesús Joel Díaz Hernández (Cuba), Baton Haxhiu (Kosovo), Jugnu Mohsin and Najam Sethi (Pakistan), María Cristina Caballero (Colombia)
Grémah Boucar (Niger), Gustavo Gorriti (Panama), Pavel Sheremet (Belarus), Ruth Simon (Eritrea)
Viktor Ivancic (Croatia), Freedom Neruda (Ivory Coast), Christine Anyanwu (Nigeria). Ying Chan (United States) and Shieh Chung-Liang (Taiwan)
Ocak Isik Yurtçu (Turkey), Daoud Kuttab (Palestinian Authority), J. Jesus Blancornelas (Mexico), Yusuf Jameel (India)