CPJ names four journalists for 2021 Press Freedom Awards

The Committee to Protect Journalists said it will honor four brave journalists from Belarus, Guatemala, Mozambique and Myanmar with the International Press Freedom Awards 2021.

The Press Freedom Group noted that the four journalists reported during a historically turbulent time, covering protests and political upheaval in their countries.

“In the midst of a battle for control of information, these journalists are on the side of the people, covering events, informing communities and ensuring accountability,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.

“They paid a price, facing violence, harassment, repression and persecution, but refusing to back down. We honor their commitment and sacrifice and look forward to celebrating their courage, alongside all those who are firm supporters of press freedom and independent journalism.

According to a statement released by CPJ on Monday, the winners include Belarusian Katsiaryna Barysevich, staff correspondent at influential Belarusian media outlet Tut.by; the Guatemalan Anastasia Mejía, radio journalist based in Joyabaj; Mozambican Matías Guente, editor-in-chief of Canal de Moçambique, an independent investigative weekly, and its daily digital publication CanalMoz; and Burmese Aye Chan Naing, co-founder, editor and executive director of Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB).

The quartet will be honored on November 18, 2021 at CPJ’s annual awards ceremony, a gala that will be both virtual and in-person.

The event will be chaired by Ford Foundation President Darren Walker and moderated by ABC “World News Tonight” presenter David Muir.

PREMIUM TIMES editor Dapo Olorunyomi has been among the four winners of the prestigious prize of the last edition of the event.

About the winners

Katsiaryna Barysevich (Belarus): In 2020, Barysevich reported on pro-democracy protests in the country and published an article about a protester who was allegedly killed by law enforcement, contradicting official statements by the authorities. As a result, she spent six months behind bars and faces fines. His colleagues at Tut.by continue to face detention and harassment.

Anastasia mejia (Guatemala): She co-founded Xolabaj Radio and Xolabaj TV to cover issues of importance to the local community, particularly issues of concern to indigenous women. In September 2020, the police arrested Mejía on criminal charges related to her coverage of local protests, and was remanded in custody for five weeks before being released and placed under house arrest. Today, his journalistic work is severely restricted.

Matias Guente (Mozambique): Over the years, he has faced a myriad of threats for his hard-hitting reporting, including police questioning, charges of breach of state secrecy and conspiracy against the state, and attempted kidnapping in 2019. In 2020, unidentified individuals set the offices of the point of sale on fire.

Aye Chan Naing (Myanmar): As a pioneer of the Myanmar exile media movement from the 1990s, he led DVB’s transition from exile-based operations to in-country operations in 2012, despite the continued government harassment. In 2021, several DVB journalists were arrested or detained amid a harsh crackdown on media and civil society following the military junta’s takeover in February.

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