New York, N.Y., November 24--The Committee to Protect Journalists
presented its 1998 International Press Freedom Awards in ceremonies
in New York tonight to journalists from five countries for their
courage and independence in reporting the news. But, in a turn of
events underscoring the importance of the need to safeguard press
freedom throughout the world, three of the recipients were unable
to attend the ceremonies.
Pavel Sheremet, a television bureau chief and newspaper editor
in Belarus, was prevented by the Belarusian government from leaving
the country. Ruth Simon, a wire service correspondent, is
in prison in Eritrea because of her reporting. And Goenawan Mohamad,
Indonesia's foremost independent journalist, remained in Indonesia
because of the current state of unrest there.
In New York to accept their awards personally tonight were Grémah
Boucar, a radio station owner and publisher in Niger, and Gustavo
Gorriti, a Peruvian investigative reporter working in Panama;
The CPJ International Press Freedom Awards
honor journalists who have bravely provided news coverage and viewpoints
in the face of arrest, imprisonment, violence against them and their
families, and threats of death.
CPJ also honored Brian P. Lamb, C-SPAN's founder and chief
executive officer, with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award
for distinguished contributions to the cause of press freedom.
In a videotaped message to the nearly 800 persons attending the
CPJ gathering at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, Goenawan said:
"The current situation in Indonesia does not allow me to leave the
countryÉToday in Indonesia a journalist has to do many things besides
writingÉForces of repression remain strong, and they may strike
back. For this reason a journalist has to be involved at least temporarily
with a broader effort to prevent their return to power."
In his videotaped message, Sheremet said: "A year ago while in jail,
I often had a feeling that I'd never get out. The investigation
against me and my colleagues on a pretext impossible anywhere in
the civilized world was just an example of how the government treats
the mass media in Belarus. My personal experience is proof that
this pressure is hard to withstand and dangerous."
A U.S. State Department statement issued Monday said, "The United
States is deeply concerned that steps taken by the government of
Belarus against Pavel SheremetÉare designed to silence reporting
it does not like. Mr. Sheremet should be able to enjoy his fundamental
human rights, including freedom of speech, freedom of expression
and freedom to travel."
Two past International Press Freedom Award winners who were recently
released from prison were able to personally accept their awards
tonight. They are Doan Viet Hoat of Vietnam, a 1993 award recipient
who was freed in September after eight years imprisonment, and Chris
Anyanwu of Nigeria, a 1997 award recipient who was released in June
after more than three years in prison.
Speakers at the black-tie event included dinner co-chairmen Mortimer
B. Zuckerman and Harold M. Evans.
Zuckerman is editor in chief and publisher, and Evans, vice chairman
and editorial director, of U.S. News & World Report, the
Daily News, The Atlantic Monthly, and Fast Company.
Also taking part were Anne Garrels
of NPR; Tom Brokaw of NBC;
Ira Glass of "This American Life"; Karen
Elliott House of Dow Jones International; Peter
Jennings and David Marash of
ABC; Tina Rosenberg of The New York
Times; Charlie Rose of "The Charlie
Rose Show"; Goodloe Sutton of The
Democrat Reporter, Linden, Ala.; Gene
Roberts, chairman of CPJ and Ann Cooper,
CPJ's executive director.
for More Information About the Award Recipients