Mae Azango (Liberia) and Rami Jarrah (Syria) risked their lives to
report the news in their countries
TORONTO, Sept. 27, 2012 /CNW/ - Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
(CJFE) is honoured to award its 2012 International Press Freedom Awards
(IPFAs) to Mae Azango of Liberia and Rami Jarrah of Syria for their
courage and tenacity in reporting the news despite the grave threats
they faced. The awards will be presented at the 15th annual CJFE Gala, to be held December 5, 2012, at the Fairmont Royal
York hotel in Toronto.
CJFE's IPFAs are awarded to journalists who demonstrate a commitment to
human rights and honest reporting, and who have overcome tremendous
odds to produce news in the public interest. The 2012 IPFA winners were
selected for their dedication and bravery in reporting on sensitive
issues in their respective communities, and both have faced extreme
personal reprisals for their work.
"This year's honourees have shown tremendous bravery by reporting news
stories they felt were important to the safety, security and health of
their communities," said Carol Off, CJFE Gala Steering Committee chair.
"Both have paid a considerable price for their work, but they continue
to bear witness and report the serious events taking place in their
countries, helping to keep the world informed about issues we would
otherwise not have access to. We're honoured that both will join us in
Toronto in December."
Mae Azango is a Liberian reporter at daily newspaper and website FrontPage Africa, and is a senior member of New Narratives—Africans Reporting Africa, a not-for-profit media development initiative. Her career as a
journalist has focused on coverage of issues widely considered taboo in
Liberian communities, such as female genital cutting, child rape, the
frequency of teenage motherhood and police brutality. Her story on the
practice of female genital cutting published in March 2012 drew death
threats that forced Azango and her daughter into hiding. Azango
continued to publish stories for FrontPage Africa and Foreign Policy magazine during this period.
Following pressure from global advocacy groups that compelled the
government to make its first public commitment to ending female genital
cutting, Azango returned home. While she continues to face aggression
and backlash from community members for her reportage, Azango remains
committed to exposing hardships faced by women and girls in Liberia.
Rami Jarrah is a Cyprus-born, U.K.-raised Syrian citizen journalist who
often operates under the alias Alexander Page. Jarrah's work in
journalism began in early 2011 when he began attending and often
filming Syrian demonstrations inspired by the early Arab Spring
protests in Tunisia and Egypt. After being arrested at a Damascus
protest in March 2011, Jarrah was detained and tortured by intelligence
officers for three days. After his release, Jarrah quit his job at a
technology distribution company and committed his time to exposing the
dire political situation in Syria.
Using the pseudonym Alexander Page, Jarrah quickly became well known for
his daring, on-the-ground footage and frequent testimonies he provided
to international media outlets barred from entering the country. This
ability to report honestly and safely was compromised however, when his
identity was leaked to Syrian government officials. Threats to personal
safety forced Jarrah and family to flee to Egypt in October 2011.
Jarrah is currently based in Cairo, where he co-produces ANA News Media
Association, an independent citizen press group that offers training
and support to a network of journalists in Syria.
About the Gala
The CJFE Gala is made possible by the valued support of Scotiabank, CBC
News, CTV News and Henry's, along with many other organizations and
individuals in the media, legal, academic and business communities.
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression boldly champions the free
expression rights of journalists and media workers around the world. In
Canada, we monitor, defend and promote free expression and access to
information. We encourage and support individuals and groups to be
vigilant in the protection of their own and others' free expression
rights. We are active participants and builders of the global free
Follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #CJFEgala.
Image with caption: "2012 International Press Freedom Award winner Mae Azango (CNW Group/Canadian Journalists for Free Expression)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120927_C2106_PHOTO_EN_18561.jpg
Image with caption: "2012 International Press Freedom Award winner Rami Jarrah (CNW Group/Canadian Journalists for Free Expression)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20120927_C2106_PHOTO_EN_18562.jpg
SOURCE: Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
For further information:
For more information or to speak with a CJFE spokesperson, Mae Azango or Rami Jarrah, please contact:
Jeri Brown or Maria Cortellucci