Thursday, March 16, 2006

Freedom of Expression Awards-Shortlists

Index on Censorship has announced the shortlists for its annual Freedom of Expression Awards in London on 22 March 2006, honouring journalists, writers, lawyers, campaigners, filmmakers and whistleblowers who have made a significant contribution to free expression over the past year.

The event, now in its sixth year, includes a new prize - the T.R. Fyvel Book Award. The winners will be announced at the annual Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards on 22 March at the London headquarters of main sponsor Bloomberg.

Twenty-five individuals and organisations have been shortlisted. The awards will be presented at a special reception hosted by main sponsor Bloomberg LP, hosted by TV journalist Anna Ford, with a keynote address by veteran UK member of parliament Tony Benn. The shortlists for the 2006 awards are:

T.R. Fyvel Book Award

Baghdad Burning: Girl Blog from Iraq by Riverbend (Marion Boyars) Drawn from the weblog of a 24-year-old Iraqi woman describing life under occupation in Baghdad.
Human Cargo by Caroline Moorehead (Vintage) Interviews with survivors of civil war, genocide, rape and racist attacks the world over who have sought asylum and for entrance into refugee camps.
Into The Quick of Life: The Rwandan Genocide: The Survivors Speak & A Time for Machetes: The Rwandan Genocide: The Killers Speak by Jean Hatzfeld (Serpents Tail) Unheard accounts from of victims and perpetrators of genocide in Rwanda.
Unspeak by Steven Poole (Little Brown) An exploration of the ways phrases such as ‘pro-life,’ ‘Iraqi freedom’ and ‘natural resources,’ are used to distort ideas and principles.
Beasts Of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala (John Murray) A startling debut novel of child soldiers and lost innocence in an unspecified African country.

Index on Censorship Film Award

Turtles Can Fly – Bahman Ghobadi. A moving drama about children struggling to survive in landmine-strewn Kurdistan in the days leading up to the US invasion of Iraq.
Good Night and Good Luck – George Clooney. True story of US TV journalist Ed Murrow and his team’s determination to speak out during the McCarthy era when notions of national security and patriotism eclipsed those of civil liberty and freedom
The Education of Shelby Knox – Marion Lipschutz & Rose Rosenblatt. Documentary following a 15-year-old “good Southern Baptist” girl’s fight for comprehensive sex education in Texas.
La Sierra – Scott Dalton & Margarita Martinez. Documentary exploring the realities of life in a Colombian barrio where gang warfare reigns.
Live and Become – Radu Mihaileanu. Epic story of an Ethiopian boy who is airlifted to Israel during Operation Moses but who harbours two guilty secrets about his true identity

Index on Censorship Journalism Award

• Sihem Bensedrine (Tunisia) Banned journalist and human rights campaigner, for highlighting Tunisia’s lack of freedom of expression and personal struggle against the repression of information.
• Marcelo Beraba (Brazil) Ombudsman for the Rio edition of Folha de S. Paulo, for stimulating the development of investigative reporting into narco-trafficking and corruption.
• Elmar Huseynov (Azerbaijan) The editor of the popular independent weekly Monitor was shot dead in March 2005 for his outspoken reporting after months of harassment and threats.
• Isaac Mao (China) One of the first Chinese bloggers, one of the major organizers of the recent Shanghai bloggers’ conference and a harsh critic of Chinese censorship.
• Arash Sigarchi (Iran) Veteran journalist and blogger Arash Sigarchi was imprisoned in January 2006 for criticising the harassment and mistreatment of twenty cyber-journalists arrested in 2004.

Index on Censorship Law and Campaigning award

• Russian Chechen Friendship Society (Chechnya) Monitors and reports on human rights abuses in Chechnya, resisting pressure to close and threats to its directors.
• Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (Nepal) Kathmandu-based group that monitors, researches and reports on freedom of expression across the country.
• Athkam Naisse (Syria) President and founder of the Committee for the Defence of Democratic Liberties and Human Rights in Syria (CDF) now jailed awaiting trial for opposing the government.
• Beatrice Mtetwa (Zimbabwe) Media and human rights lawyer, working to defend and protect journalists who have been threatened and harassed in Zimbabwe.
• Keir Starmer (UK) Lawyer who won the right for libel defendants to receive legal aid and helped secure a Lords ruling prohibiting use of evidence obtained by torture against terror suspects in the UK.

Index on Censorship Award for Whistleblowing

• Yury Bandazhevsky (Belarus). Respected medical academic devoted to investigating the effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear explosion - and who has been jailed for his publishing his discoveries.
• John Githongo (Kenya). Anti-corruption crusader and journalist who received death threats for exposing fraud and corruption in Kenya.
• Huang Jingao (China) Local communist party official in Southern China who denounced high-level official corruption on the Internet. In November 2005, he was sentenced to life in prison.
• Russell Tice (USA). A former intelligence analyst at the National Security Agency, fired in May 2005 and preparing to tell Congress about the alleged illegal eavesdropping by the US Defense Department.
• Marlene Esperat-Garcia (Philippines). Murdered in March 2005 in front of her ten-year-old daughter for exposing local corruption in the weekly Midland Review.

The judges are: Professor Conor Gearty, novelist Delia Jarrett-Macauley, human rights lawyer Imran Khan, culture policy expert Lola Young, film critic Mark Kermode and journalist Matthew D’Ancona.

This is Index on Censorship’s major fundraising event of the year. All proceeds support our charitable work researching and publicising freedom of expression abuses, and our direct support for people whose voices have been silenced by war, dictatorship or discrimination around the world.

‘Index’s role, which it has sustained admirably over so many years, is to excavate the real facts and expose the truth. Long may it continue!’ - Harold Pinter.