Ganji shares international Press Freedom Award
October 11, 2000, Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Toronto
- A journalist who was kidnapped in Colombia and another who is in jail
in Iran will share the honours at this year's international Press Freedom
Awards dinner in Toronto next month.
The awards by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) recognize
journalists who demonstrate a commitment to freedom of expression and who
overcome enormous odds simply to produce the news.
Military affairs reporter Jineth Bedoya Lima, with El Espectador in
Bogota, Colombia, was kidnapped in May in front of a Bogota jail where
she was covering an ongoing dispute between common criminals and inmates
belonging to the right-wing paramilitary United Self-Defence Forces of
Bedoya arrived at the jail for a pre-arranged interview when she was
forced into a pick-up truck at gunpoint. She was found on the outskirts
of town about ten hours later by a taxi driver. Bedoya's hands were tied,
and she had been brutally beaten and sexually assaulted.
Now, just months later, Bedoya is still covering the civil war in Colombia
where at least 44 journalists have been killed in the past ten years, and
33 have been kidnapped since 1998. She will attend the dinner at the Sheraton
Centre Hotel in Toronto on November 23.
Akbar Ganji is in jail at Evin Prison, Tehran. Iran's most prominent
and popular reformist journalist, Ganji was arrested in April on his return
from a conference, "Iran after the elections", held in Berlin.
There is no set date for his trial.
Through 1999 and the early part of 2000, Ganji sought to expose authorities
within the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran responsible for killing
Iranian intellectuals, poets, writers and university professors.
He called on these authorities to account for human rights violations
as no other journalist dared to do. Ganji's imprisonment is part of a
campaign against independent journalists by the conservative-dominated
judiciary, ongoing since reformists won a parliamentary majority in February.
15 reformist newspapers and 10 magazines have been shut down, and 15
journalists and intellectuals are in prison.
Several others are out on bail and awaiting trial. The awards will be
presented at the third annual International Press Freedom Awards banquet
on November 23, 2000.
The banquet will also feature an address by Michael Ignatieff, the renowned
author and journalist who has covered ethnic and national conflicts, freedom
of expression, and moral and philosophical issues regarding international
These cases and others have been reported through the International
Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), a network of more than 50 journalism
and press freedom organizations.
CJFE operates the IFEX Clearing House (www.ifex.org), which can mobilize
campaigns against censorship and abuses suffered by journalists, writers
and media organizations around the world.
CJFE's Journalists in Distress Fund helps journalists suffering repression
through emergency medical, legal or travel funds. CJFE is supported by
journalists and interested citizens from across Canada.
Benefit co-chairs are Diane Francis, editor-at-large for the National
Post, and Brian Segal, President and CEO of Publishing and Online Services
for Roger's Media. Peter Gzowski will host the event, which raises funds
for the work of CJFE in promoting freedom of expression and protecting
For further information, contact
Program Manager, at CJFE,
489 College Street, Suite 403,
Toronto, Ontario M6G 1A5 Canada,
tel: +1 416 515 9622,
fax: +1 416 515 7879,
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