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CPJ honours Ethiopian journalists for their courage

Monday 30 November 2015, by SIGNIS

Dakar, Brussels, November 30th, 2015 (PANA/SIGNIS). The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has given an award to a group of Ethiopian journalists, known as Zone 9 bloggers, for their courageous work.

In a statement, made available to PANA in Dakar, CPJ said the Zone 9 bloggers were honoured along with journalists from Syria and elsewhere during its 25th annual International Press Freedom Awards dinner held in America. The journalists were given awards for their courageous work amid risks such as physical attacks, imprisonment, exile and murder.

"These awardees go forward with their work in the face of threats from repressive governments, drug cartels, Islamic State, and other terrorists and thugs determined to stifle the truth," remarked Joel Simon, CPJ’s executive director. "In recognizing these fearless journalists, we send a message of support to journalists everywhere and a message to authoritarian actors that we are watching."

According to the statement, Suroosh Alvi, co-founder of VICE Media, presented an award to the Zone 9 bloggers, six of whom were charged with terrorism and imprisoned for more than a year in retaliation for critical reporting. Meanwhile, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group of Syrian citizen journalists that has seen two members murdered by Islamic State, also received its award from the editor of The New Yorker and CPJ board member David Remnick.

Creator of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Doonesbury comic strip Garry Trudeau presented Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque ("Zunar") of Malaysia with his award, the first time CPJ has honoured a full-time cartoonist. Cándido Figueredo Ruíz, a Paraguayan journalist who has lived under 24-hour police protection for two decades because of his reporting on organized crime, received his award from CPJ board member Isaac Lee, president of news and digital for Univision Communications, Inc. and CEO of Fusion.

Kathy Gannon, special regional correspondent for Pakistan and Afghanistan at The Associated Press, received the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for lifetime achievement in the cause of press freedom from Christiane Amanpour, the chief international correspondent for CNN. Gannon has covered the region since 1998. In 2014, she was seriously wounded when an Afghan police officer opened fire on the car she was sharing with AP photographer Anja Niedringhaus, who was killed.

The awards dinner was said to have been chaired by Steven R. Swartz, president and CEO of Hearst, and it raised a record US$2.04 million for CPJ’s worldwide advocacy.

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