Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev receives UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom prize
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova today awarded the 2012 UNESCO Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize to Azerbaijani journalist Eynulla Fatullayev . The award ceremony took place in Tunis, where an international conference is being held to mark World Press Freedom Day.
Mr Fatullayev is the former editor-in-chief and founder of the popular independent Russian languageweekly Realny Azerbaijan, and the Azeri language daily Gundalik Azarbaycan. A fierce defender of the principles of freedom of expression who provided a critical perspective on the governance of societies, Mr Fatullayev served four years of prison, before being released by presidential pardon in 2011. Expressing his gratitude for the efforts of the international community in calling for his release, Mr Fatullayev said the prize was in fact a tribute to all journalists who strived to protect freedom of speech.
The award ceremony, which opened celebrations for World Press Freedom Day, was hosted by the President of Tunisia, Dr Moncef Marzouki. In his welcome address, President Marzouki acknowledged the importance of a free media and said that his country still had some progress to make in this domain. He pledged to “remain loyal” to the promises made in the wake of last year’s revolution, and said that the freedoms won would not be violated.
The Director-General said that she was “deeply moved” to be awarding the prize “in a country that, a year ago, gave rise to a vast movement for democratic change that gave hope to the whole world.” She also highlighted the dangers faced by journalists, stressing that more than 500 media professionals had been killed over the past ten years. With over 20 killed in the line of duty so far this year she added, 2012 was shaping up as the most deadly year for media since the creation of World Press Freedom Day in 1997. A minute of silence was observed in memory of those journalists “who had paid with their lives for the right to keep us informed.”
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed similar concerns in a video message to the ceremony, where she was represented by Esther Brimmer, US Assistant Secretary, International Organization Affairs.
“When a free media is under attack anywhere, all human rights are under attack everywhere,” Mrs Clinton said. “That is why the United States joins its global partners in calling for the release of all imprisoned journalists in any country across the globe, and an end to intimidation.”
The issue of security for journalists is one of the subjects to be discussed over the next two days at an international conference “New Voices: Media freedom helping to transform societies”, organized by UNESCO and the Tunisian Government with support from a range of intergovernmental, non-governmental, private sector and media partners. More than 770 participants from 88 countries are attending the event.
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