Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 2 May 2014:
Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has published . . .[restrict]the profiles of “100 information heroes” to celebrate World Press Freedom Day on 3 May.
The list of 100 includes two Libyans, a male and a female journalist, Amara Al-Khitabi and Hanan Al-Mqawab.
Amara Al-Khitabi is the editor of the privately-owned Tripoli newspaper Al-Umma and is “a victim of Libya’s penal code and, in particular, article 195, which remains in effect although it is very repressive”, reports RWB.
Aged 67, he was arrested on 21 November 2012 and was held for more than four months, becoming the first Libyan journalist to be jailed after the fall of the Qaddafi regime. His crime was publishing a list of 87 judges and prosecutors suspected of corruption and then refusing to reveal his source.
Charged with libel and “insulting the judicial system,” he faced a sentence of 3 to 15 years in prison under article 195. Although in poor health, he went on hunger strike. After being released, he was initially forbidden to leave the country to seek treatment. It was only on 21 August 2013 that he was allowed to travel to Jordan. Article 195 was recently amended, “but only to adapt it to the post-Qaddafi era. It remains as draconian as ever and Khitabi is still facing a possible 15-year sentence” reports RWB.
The second Libyan listed in the profile of 100 information heros is 34-year-old Libyan woman from Benghazi, Hanan Al-Mqawab. “She was forged in the fire of the revolution. Soon after the start of the uprising, she began working as a citizen-journalist for the Media Centre, an ad hoc organization created to cover events in the east of the country”.
“She soon went on to work for radio Benghazi Mahali, presenting reports on the humanitarian situation, and then Shabab Libya FM, where she covered the situation of women and hosted a very popular programme called Isma’una (Listen to us), the first to talk openly about the abuses being committed by the militias” explains RWB.
“Its reports linking armed groups to egregious human rights violations led to a major demonstration on 21 September 2012 called “Save Benghazi.” The resulting threats of death or abduction were too much even for Mqawab and her commitment to journalism and political activism. She finally fled abroad and continues to be a journalist in exile” RWB reports.
RWB’s is publishing a list of profiles of “100 information heroes” for World Press Freedom Day (3 May), for the first time ever.
“Through their courageous work or activism, these “100 heroes” help to promote the freedom enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the freedom to “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” They put their ideals in the service of the common good. They serve as examples”, RWB say.
“World Press Freedom Day, which RWB helped to create, should be an occasion for paying tribute to the courage of the journalists and bloggers who constantly sacrifice their safety and sometimes their lives to their vocation,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire.
“These ‘information heroes’ are a source of inspiration to all men and women who aspire to freedom. Without their determination and the determination of all those like them, it would be simply impossible to extend the domain of freedom.”
This obviously non-exhaustive list pays homage not only to the 100 famous and less well known people on it, but also to all the professional and non-professional journalists who constantly help to shed light on the world and cover every aspect of its reality. This initiative aims to show that the fight for freedom of information requires not only active support for the victims of abuses but also the promotion of those who can serve as models.
The list of “100 information heroes” comprises women and men of almost all ages (25 to 75) and 65 nations. The youngest, Oudom Tat, is Cambodian and the oldest, Muhammed Ziauddin, is Pakistani. Twenty-five of the heroes are from the Asia-Pacific region, 20 from the Middle East and North Africa, and eight from Europe. Iran, Russia, China, Eritrea, Azerbaijan, Mexico and Vietnam are each represented by at least three heroes.
The lists includes such varied figures as Anabel Hernandez, the author of a bestseller on the collusion between Mexican politicians and organized crime, Ismail Saymaz, a Turkish journalist who has been prosecuted a score of times for his reporting, Hassan Ruvakuki, who was jailed for 15 months in Burundi for interviewing members of a rebel movement, and Gerard Ryle, the head of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, who has contributed to the emergence of global investigative journalism.
In June 2013 RWB published a report in which it condemned the growing number of attacks, kidnappings and threats mounted by militiamen, against both local and foreign journalists in Libya since the February 17 Revolution. [/restrict]