Iryna Khalip of Belarus, Agnes Taile of Cameroon and Jila Baniyaghoob of Iran win Courage in Journalism Awards from the International Women’s Media Foundation
Amira Hass of Israel is Lifetime Achievement Award winner
A Belarusian journalist who is frequently detained and subjected to all-night interrogations by police, a Cameroonian radio journalist whose broadcasts on human rights and press freedom have put her life at risk and an Iranian journalist whose reports about sensitive social and political issues have led to multiple arrests are recipients of this year’s International Women’s Media Foundation’s Courage in Journalism Awards.
“These remarkable journalists have chosen to report the news in three countries where pursuit of the truth puts them at risk for arrest, physical attacks and even death,” said Judy Woodruff, chair of the IWMF Courage in Journalism Awards. “Still, they have consistently, for many years, chosen to risk their lives and livelihoods in pursuing stories that illuminate the lives of people in their countries and enlighten us all.”
Winners of the 2009 Courage in Journalism Awards are:
Iryna Khalip, 41, reporter and editor in the Minsk bureau of Novaya Gazeta. For more than 15 years, Khalip has been a journalist in Belarus, one of the most oppressive countries toward journalists in the world. After working at a succession of newspapers, only to see them closed by the government, she now works for Novaya Gazeta, one of the most independent newspapers in the former Soviet Union, and the newspaper of 2002 Courage Award winner Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in 2006. Khalip has been arrested, subjected to all-night interrogations and beaten by police, who keep her under constant surveillance.
Agnes Taile, 29, reporter for Canal 2 International, radio and television, Cameroon. Taile reports on human rights and press freedom, including unflinching stories on the ineffectiveness and corruption of government officials. In 2006, while she was a reporter for Sweet FM, Taile received threats demanding that she stop her pursuit of government corruption. She ignored the threats. Not long afterward, she was abducted from her home at knife point by three hooded men, then beaten and left for dead in a ravine. Her show was cancelled after the attack. After recovering, Taile was determined to keep working as a journalist and landed a new job with Canal 2 covering the northern provinces of Cameroon.
Jila Baniyaghoob, 38, freelance reporter and editor-in-chief of the website Kanoon Zanan Irani (Focus on Iranian Women), Iran. Baniyaghoob works in one of the most restrictive environments for both journalists and women in the world. Still, she has fearlessly reported on government and social oppression, particularly as they affect women. She has been fired from several jobs because she refuses to censor the subject matter of her reporting and several of her media outlets have been closed by the government. She has travelled throughout the Middle East, writing accounts of the lives of women and refugees during times of conflict. The topics of her reporting make her a target of the Iranian government. She has been beaten, arrested and imprisoned numerous times.
The IWMF also announced that it will present its Lifetime Achievement Award to Amira Hass, 52, a reporter and columnist for Ha’aretz Daily, a newspaper based in Tel Aviv. For almost 20 years Hass has written critically about both Israeli and Palestinian authorities. She has demonstrated her ability to defy boundaries of gender, ethnicity and religion in her pursuit of the truth in her reporting. In covering the Palestinian Occupied Territories, her goal has been to provide her readers with detailed information about Israeli policies and especially that of restrictions of the freedom of movement.” For many years, she made her home first in Gaza City and then in Ramallah. In 2002 the Los Angeles Times reported that Hass “is the only Israeli Jew known to be living under Palestinian rule and one of a handful of Jewish reporters who still cross enemy lines for the Israeli media.”
Created in 1990, the IWMF Courage in Journalism Awards honor women journalists who have shown extraordinary strength of character and integrity while reporting the news under dangerous or difficult circumstances. The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes a woman journalist who has a pioneering spirit and whose determination has paved the way for women in the news media. Including this year’s award winners, 66 journalists have won Courage Awards and 18 journalists have been honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards. The 2009 awards will be presented at ceremonies in New York on October 20 and in Los Angeles on October 28.
Founded in 1990, the International Women’s Media Foundation is a vibrant global network dedicated to strengthening the role of women in the news media worldwide as a means to further freedom of the press. The IWMF network includes women and men in the media in more than 130 countries worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.iwmf.org.