Awards for Free Speech Defenders

15 Mar

According to a BBC report, five defenders of free speech have been awarded the annual Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards.

The whistleblower award which goes to Chen Guangcheng, a self-taught lawyer in the Shandong province of China, is a blind activist who publicised reports of forced abortions. He was sentenced last August to four years in jail for property damage and organising a crowd to disturb traffic.

The journalism award went to a 22 year old blogger Abdel Kareem Soliman, who was also given four years in prison for criticising the country’s top Islamic institution, al-Azhar university, and calling President Hosni Mubarak, a dictator.

Assassinated Lebanese journalist Samir Qasir won the literature category for his criticism of the former pro-Syrian Lebanese authorities in his book, “Being Arab”.

Siphiwe Hlophe, from Swaziland won the campaigning category for her work in HIV/AIDS. She was one of the founders of “Swazis for Positive Living” whose goals include fighting gender discrimination related to HIV/Aids.

Israeli director Yoav Shamir’s documentary about the Israeli Defence Force and the planned evacuation of Jewish settlers from Gaza, helped him won the film category.

It would be an insurmountable task, lest to say, huge responsibility, for a single organisaion, to track and include every human rights abuse that occurred in a single year, every year.

Nevertheless, Human Rights Awards and Activism awards by various organisations could serve the function of not only highlighting the importance of the work done by human rights activists, but also allows less well- known cases to be more broadly publicised.

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References:

Awards for free speech defenders, BBC, 14 March 2007

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