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RSF-Fondation de France prize presented in Paris

13 December 2006

RSF-Fondation de France prize presented in Paris

SOURCE: Reporters sans frontières (RSF), Paris

The 15th Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France prize was presented in Paris on Tuesday, 12 December 2006

The 15th Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France prize was awarded to a journalist, a media outlet, a press freedom defender and a cyber-dissident. The 2006 laureates are:

- U WIN TIN (Burma) in the "Journalist" category
- NOVAYA GAZETA (Russia) in the "Media" category
- JOURNALISTE EN DANGER (Democratic Republic of Congo) in the "Defender of press freedom" category
- GUILLERMO FARINAS HERNANDEZ (Cuba) in the "Cyberdissident" category

The 15th Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France 2006 prize is awarded to:

THE JOURNALIST OF THE YEAR who, through their work, attitude or principled stands demonstrated a strong commitment to press freedom.

The laureate is 76-year-old Burmese journalist U Win Tin, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for "subversion" and "anti-government propaganda" in 1989. After more than 17 years in prison and despite faltering health, the country's most renowned journalist will not give way. In his special cell at Insein jail, near Rangoon, Saya, "The Sage", as his comrades call him, refuses to renounce his commitment to the National League for Democracy, robbed by the military junta of a landslide electoral victory in 1990. He continues to call for the unconditional release of thousands of prisoners of opinion held in the country's prisons. U Win Tin was one of the political mentors of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, also deprived of her freedom. U Win Tin, who has been weakened by a urinary infection and two heart attacks, is only allowed two visits per month.

The other 2006 nominees in this category were Dawit Isaac (Eritrea) and Hollman Felipe Morris (Colombia).

A MEDIA outlet which exemplifies the struggle for the right to inform the public and to be informed.

The prize goes to the Russian bi-weekly Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper for which Anna Politkovskaya was working when she was murdered in Moscow on 7 October 2006. Novaya Gazeta carries out investigations regularly exposing corruption in the Russian administration. Also highly critical of government policy, the newspaper carried numerous reports by Anna Politkovskaya on Chechnya, but also on developments in Russian society. The founders of the "New Newspaper" set themselves the objective of being independent and of extending its circulation throughout Russia.

The other 2006 nominees in this category were the Democratic Voice of Burma (Burma), Uthayan (Sri Lanka) and An-Nahar (Lebanon).

A DEFENDER of press freedom

The prize is awarded to the organisation "Journalist in Danger" (JED), based in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Founded in 1997 by journalists Donat M'Baya Tshimanga and Tshivis Tshivuadi, JED is one of Africa's most active and respected press freedom organisations. JED is particularly combative when it comes to reminding easily corrupted journalists of their duty. It is also in the vanguard of the struggle to get the government to reform unfair legislation under which journalists are regularly sent to the capital's Penitentiary and Re-education centre in the capital.

The other 2006 nominees in this category were the Centre for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET, Mexico), Tadjigoul Begmedova (Turkmenistan) and Anwar al-Bunni (Syria).

A CYBER-DISSIDENT prevented from informing the public online

The prize is awarded to Guillermo Fariñas Hernández (Cuba), head of the independent news agency Cubanacán Press. In February 2006, he began a hunger and thirst strike to demand access to a "free Internet" for all Cubans. The authorities forcibly hospitalised him and put him on a drip to bring his protest to an end, a step which led to even greater international media interest. Guillermo Fariñas has said he is ready to die so that his compatriots can finally have the right to be informed. He has been in intensive care since 20 August because of kidney and heart problems. The authorities did offer to allow him "limited" access to the Internet, but he refused, explaining that he could not honourably practice his profession as a journalist by only looking at news that had been filtered by the government. He is continuing his work at Cubanacán and has become one of the leading voices among Cuban opposition journalists.

The other 2006 nominees in this category were Habib Saleh (Syria) and Yang Zili (China).

Reporters Without Borders pays tribute to Gebran Tuweni

Gebran Tuweni, publisher of the daily An-Nahar, was murdered in a car bombing in Beirut on 12 December 2005. He was the third journalist - after Samir Kassir and May Shidiac - to be targeted during 2005. The investigation into his death has now stalled, because of political obstacles and violence which continues to rock the country.

Dancer Yalda Younes performed at the ceremony in tribute to this major Lebanese press figure in the play NO, written by Zad Moultaka in honour of the Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir, created in Beirut on 2 June 2006, to mark the first anniversary of his murder.

The Reporters Without Borders - Fondation de France prize has been awarded since 1992

In honouring a journalist, a media outlet, a press freedom defender and a cyber-dissident, Reporters Without Borders and the Fondation de France draws the attention of public opinion to the wide range of attacks on the right to inform the public and to be informed and for the need to actively support press freedom.

Each prize is worth 2,500 euros.


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