International Press Freedom Awards

Mauri König Award Acceptance Speech

Mauri König, Brazil
Gazeto do Povo

Acceptance Speech
CPJ International Press Freedom Award 2012
November 20, 2012
Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Avenue, New York City

A translation of the speech is below

Today I feel that I am the most privileged of journalists. First, to be alive and have escaped situations that really could have ended badly; second, because the newspaper where I work, Gazeta do Povo, understands the necessity of the journalism I do;  and thirdly, for receiving this prize from the Committee to Protect Journalists, a recognition that stems not from a particular report, but rather from a lifetime of covering isues of public interest.

Many journalists have paid with their lives for believing that journalism is a tool for improving our reality, revealing injustices, denouncing corrupt governments, and exposing arbitrary police. In their memory, I share this award with those who seek to excercise journalism as an instrument of change, even if this implies some risk.

A journalism student once asked me if I was not afraid to do this kind of investigative work. I replied that my indignation is greater than my fear. Indignation is what best defines the motivation of those who do this kind of journalism. It was this sentiment that motivated the journalist Tim Lopes, kidnapped and killed in 2002 by drug dealers while  investigating the sexual exploitation of adolescents in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. It is Brazil's most emblematic case, but not the only one.

With 21 journalsits killed in the line of duty since 1992, Brazil occupies the 11th spot in CPJ's ranking of countries where journalists are killed. Nonetheless, this year the Brazilian government allied itself with India and Pakistan to prevent the adoption of a United Nations action plan that aimed to reduce the killings of journalists and combat impunity. Under pressure, the government backtracked. And the organization to which I belong, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalists, was invited to collaborate and offer suggestions to be presented to the United Nations.

We now hope that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who in times of political activism was imprisoned and tortured for fighting for democracy and the right to free speech, is committed to the adoption of this plan. It is not to defend ourselves, as some might think, but rather the defense of freedom of expression as one of the pillars of democracy. This award from CPJ helps call attention to a problem that many are reluctant to admit, in Brazil and in other countries.

Independent journalism and the right to information cannot continue to exist in the crossfire of legal threats, physical agression, and the curtailing of freedom in an atmosphere of impunity and corruption without limits. We cannot allow journalists like Dhondup Wangchen and Azimjon Askarov, who could not be present for this tribute, continue to be imprisoned for fighting against arbitrary governmenta in pursuit of a more just society.

Thanks once again to CPJ for this award and distinction.

More on the Awards

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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 (Krygyzstan), 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 (Columbia)

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)