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Peter Mackler, Remi Ochlik Honoured At Event In Washington

Photograph by Remi Ochlik exhibited at the event


The Embassy of France in the United States hosted a reception on World Press Freedom, Wednesday, honouring two journalists greatly admired for their commitment, dedication and self-sacrifice. One was the French news service AFP’s veteran, Peter Mackler, who died at 58 in 2008, and in whose memory the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism was created. The other was Remi Ochlik, the young French photographer who died at Homs in 2012, while covering the war in Syria.
Speaking at the event, Catherine Antoine, the wife of Mackler said about journalists fighting for media freedom, “Many are forced to give up or give in to self-censorship. Others courageously push forward, motivated by respect for the truth and dedication to journalistic ethics. We can’t really blame those who choose to avoid danger. But, in turn, we must recognize those who choose to take personal risk on the values we hold dear.” 

Peter Mackler
 Peter Mackler won many accolades, one which described his long and dedicated service to AFP as the “driving force behind transforming the agency’s English language service into a global powerhouse.”
Also honoured was Remi Ochlik whose extraordinary commitment to war photography was displayed at the reception with an exhibitof his photographs taken at different conflicts of the Arab Spring. The tragedy of his death and the importance of keeping alive his memory through the photographs were highlighted in a message from his girlfriend Emilie Blachere read at the event.
It was really important to Remi to continue his work on Arab revolutions. He was obsessed; he wanted to describe, with his pictures, the atrocity of the war in Syria. And he was right. Everyone knows that ‘zero risk’ doesn’t exist, but nobody could live thinking that. We were prepared for everything but not for the worst. But I was, I am so proud of him.”
(Please see the full text below)
The French ambassador to US, François Delattre, speaking, paid a tribute to Mackler: “Throughout his amazing career, he followed and reported on many conflicts: both wars in Iraq as well as the wars in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Peter Mackler devoted his life to the universal right to information. He worked hard to share his experience in emerging countries and to train many journalists and reporters, particularly in Iran and Malaysia.”
About Ochlik, Delattre said, “The brevity of his life did not prevent him from being singled out by international critics on several occasions, whether for “The Battle of Libya,” which won a World Press Photo award, or for his reporting in Tripoli, or on Cairo’s Tahrir Square and in Tunisia, which earned him the Grand Prize of the European Journalism Festival.”
Christophe Deloire, secretary general of the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters without Borders (RSF) also spoke.
The winner of the 2013 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Jouralism is Sudanese journalist Faisal Salih, who will be honoured at a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington DC on October 24.
Announcing the event Antoine said, “[t]his year, you must know that we are honoring Sudan’s Faisal Mohamed Salih at the National Press Club in three weeks. Faisal is a remarkable man and if you want to know more, you need to join us on the 24th. Ambassador Lyman who is right here with us is the keynote speaker. Please, come and show your support.”
The full text of Catherine Antoine’s speech
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
Monsieur l’ambassadeur, merci pour votre hospitalité dans cette belle maison.
I have to start with something sad, but bear with me because it gets better.
Five years ago, on a beautiful Friday afternoon in June, my husband passed away suddenly.
It was the beginning of a personal tragedy for my daughters and me, but something else happened.
We received hundreds of messages, emails, letters, phone calls from people around the world who wanted to share what Peter had meant during their career.
Journalists in Bagdad, in Islamabad, in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong ; in Bosnia, Kosovo, India told us how much Peter had been and continued to be an inspiration.
My husband was a consummate reporter. For him, journalism was not only a profession, it was a way to be in life. He was immensely generous with his time, his experience, his knowledge, mentoring young reporters and discussing journalistic ethics – issues close to his heart – as well as safety in situation of conflict.
When he passed away, as is the custom in this country, people asked where they could make a donation.
One of my daughter said « We must continue Papa’s work Â» and the other said « Let’s create an award in his name. Â»
So we did – in collaboration with Reporters without Borders, an organization my husband and I have always admired.
Year after year, we have been able to help and recognize a reporter who operates in difficult and dangerous circumstances.
In 2009, JS Tissainayagam was in jail, accused of terrorism for his reporting on the civil conflict in Sri Lanka.
Today, Tissa is right here with us. He actually runs a very interesting blog – PM Media Freedom – that I recommend. You can find a link on the Peter Mackler Award website.
The following year, we recognized Ilya Barabanov, a young man from Russia whose reporting on corruption in the secret police prompted raids on the publication he still works for.
In 2011, we honored the courage of a woman, Karla Rivas, editor of a community radio in Honduras. Karla staunchly refused to be intimidated by the military. She started her acceptance speech by reading the name of 16 Honduran reporters who had been gunned down in 28 months.
Last year, Lukpan Akhmedyarov from Kazakhstan received the award. We were lucky to have him among us because thugs had left him for dead six months earlier. He had been literally beaten to a pulp, after he reported on corruption in local politics. He was an inspiring speaker at the award and at Columbia University where our winners traditionally address the students and faculty as well.
And this year, you must know that we are honoring Sudan’s Faisal Mohamed Salih at the National Press Club in three weeks. Faisal is a remarkable man and if you want to know more, you need to join us on the 24th. Ambassador Lyman who is right here with us is the keynote speaker. Please, come and show your support .
Now, you might wonder « Why should we care ? Why should we be concerned about the fate of reporters in Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Sudan ? We live here, in this beautiful city of Washington DC – designed as you know by a French man, le major L’Enfant. Â»
You should care deeply, for many reasons. The one I’ll mention tonight is the fact that our own press is battered, and foreign correspondents are so few now. Our own professional media are undergoing drastic budget cuts at a time when reporting from overseas has never been so costly, and so dangerous.
Sure, activists, even ordinary people send tweets and posts video on YouTube.
But who’s there to bring perspective, to double check the facts and tell us in the end « what does it all mean ? Â»
Most often, only the local press is left to take the risks to report the truth; and they do it with little or no protection. They most often are subjected to threats to their lives, threats of torture, threats to their family.
Many are forced to give up or give in to self-censorship. Others courageously push forward, motivated by respect for the truth and dedication to journalistic ethics.
We can’t really blame those who choose to avoid danger. But, in turn, we must recognize those who choose to take personal risk on the values we hold dear.
I could go on, but let me stop here for now.
Five years after my husband passed, our goal is to make the award permanent.
To do so, we need your support. Tissa, Karla, Faisal deserve your support.
Please, come to the award ceremony at the National Press Club on October 24th, buy a ticket – it only costs 25 dollars – or better, make a donation so we can continue this work.
Thank you.
Emilie Blachere’s message was read by Delphine Halgand, director in Washington of Reporters without Borders (RSF)
For the past six months, Rémi and I had talked about his project to go to Homs.
He wanted us to go together but I couldn’t. I encouraged him to go there but to be careful.
On this particular day, the 10 th of February 2012, he left. It was the last time I saw him.
And he was smiling. And I was so happy. That’s why today, I have no regrets about his trip in Syria.
It was really important to Remi to continue his work on Arab revolutions. He was obsessed; he wanted to describe, with his pictures, the atrocity of the war in Syria. And he was right.
Everyone knows that « zero risk » doesn’t exist but nobody could live thinking that.
We were prepared for everything but not for the worst.
But I was, I am so proud of him. I haven’t felt like laughing since the day of his death.
But this particular evening, I will drink for you, Rémi, for all photographers here, in Washington and others in the world who show the world not as we imagine it but the world as it is : beaufitul, amazing but so so vicious.
It’s really important that his pictures don’t die with him. We have to show them anywhere we can. And we will.
Thank you.

Karla Rivas Named 2011 Winner of Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism

NEW YORK, Aug. 22, 2011 – Global Media Forum and the US branch of Reporters Without Borders are pleased to announce that Honduran radio journalist Karla Rivas, news editor for Radio Progreso, has been selected as the 2011 winner of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism. Rivas will be awarded the prize at a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on October 20, 2011. Rivas is the first woman to receive the Award.



Karla Rivas, 33, works for Radio Progreso, a Jesuit-run radio station covering current events, sports, and arts news. Despite being one of the first victims of raids by the military after the 2009 coup, Radio Progreso continues to challenge censorship and to promote dialogue within Honduran society. It’s leader, Father Ismael Moreno, was one of approximately ten journalists the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights instructed the new Honduran government to protect, an injunction the regime continues to ignore. Karla Rivas became a vocal opponent of the military tactics and continues to defend Radio Progreso‘s right to broadcast uncensored information. Camille Mackler, Project Director for the Peter Mackler Award, said that “Ms. Rivas has shown enormous courage and integrity by asserting the right of the People of Honduras to receive fair, accurate news. She has done so regardless of the danger she placed herself in. This selflessness and strong ethics are what the Peter Mackler Award rewards by naming Ms. Rivas this year’s winner.”

Jean-François Julliard, Secretary General of Reporters Without Borders stated that Ms. Rivas’ recognition “constitutes both a symbol of the fight for the right to information, and a reminder to the international community of the tragedy Honduras has suffered since the coup on June 28th, 2009. Radio Progreso‘s efforts to inform the public about the state of human rights since that day is rewarded today. The driving force for dialogue within an extremely polarized society, Radio Progreso continues to take on with courage its journalistic and educational role, despite threats and persecution. If the station is over a half-century old, its young journalists and announcers embody both the future of a profession and the hope of a country.” Reporters Without Borders ranked Honduras 143rd out of 175 countries in their 2010 Press Freedom Index, down from 128th the previous year.



About the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism



The Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism was founded in June, 2008 to honor the memory of Peter Mackler, a Brooklyn-born thirty-five year veteran journalist who championed ethical journalism and freedom of expression. Mackler helped transform the news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) into the international competitor that it is today. Mackler also founded the Global Media Forum, which has helped to train journalists and non-profit organizations to use the media as a tool for social change, and Project Plato, which teaches journalism as a life skill to disadvantaged teenagers.

The Peter Mackler award rewards journalists who fight courageously and ethically to report the news in countries where freedom of the press is either not guaranteed or not recognized. The Award is administered jointly by Global Media Forum and Reporters Without Borders. The Award ceremony will take place on October 20, 2011 at 6PM at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, 529 14th St. N.W, 13th Fl.; Washington, DC 20045. The ceremony will be followed by a networking hour. There will be a silent auction.



Contact:

Camille J. Mackler

Project Director, Peter Mackler Award

Global Media Forum

Tel: +1-917-655-3548

Email: cmackler@globalmediaforum.com

Text of Remarks by Clothilde Le Coz During 2010 Peter Mackler Award Ceremony


Thank you all for being here tonight and joining us on this ceremony to honor Peter Mackler’s legacy. It is a very special event this year.

Tonight, you’ll hear from two very important journalists. I am very honored to have J.S. Tissainayagam speaking tonight. As some of you know, he was sentenced to 20 years in jail in Sri Lanka because of his journalistic work in 2009. This is the reason why he could not received the Peter Mackler Award he was awarded last year. But it is great to see you tonight with your wife Ronnate, still determined to get the word out when it comes to Sri Lankan sad reality. Journalists disappear and media are openly attacked. There is no way to investigate on any of these acts. The media are controlled by the government. Can you imagine that during the latest election, 97% of news program air-time was devoted to the president and his aides ? A voice like Tissa’s is of course not welcome. Especially when it comes to the Tamil minority. But you’ll hear more from him in just a few minutes.

As a journalist myself, I am amazed and impressed by the work of Ilya Barabanov. In a country where being a reporter too often rhymes with renouncing your freedom, Ilya is part of the young generation of reporters who are fighting back for change. No longer than a month ago, armed and masked police officers went on a 3 hour raid to The New Times, to disclose the sources of one of his interview. Of course, they are still looking for them. But The New Times is no exception. In the past year, the same happened to at least 4 newsrooms in Moscow.

Russia is not known for press freedom. Most Russians get their news via TV but have very little chance of hearing independent views on it. Opposition figures and government critics have no access to nationwide stations.

Murders of journalists and human rights activists and physical attacks on them, especially in the Caucasus republics, make Russia one of the world’s most dangerous countries for independent journalists.

For more than 25 years, Reporters Without Borders has been fighting for press freedom. Tonight just shows us how useful that is. As a reporter, it is an honor to be in front of them, standing up and fighting for their own rights everyday. They are not only reporters. They are examples, role models and heroes. Even if they will be too humble to admit it.

Peter Mackler Award Welcomes First Recipient to the United States

The Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism is thrilled to welcome the first recipient of the Award, J. S. Tissainayagam, to the United States. Mr. Tissainayagam, known to his friends as “Tissa”, arrived in the United States on June 19th, 2010, only days after his pardon by the Sri Lankan Government became official. Camille Mackler, director of the Peter Mackler Award, stated that “we are delighted that Tissa is finally a free man and has been reunited with his wife. However, we urge the Sri Lankan government to ensure that all journalists are able to report without fear, and hope that one day Tissa will be able to return to Sri Lanka and freely continue his work as a journalist.”

Tissainayagam was met in the United States by his wife, Ronnate Tissainayagam, who accepted the Peter Mackler Award on her husband’s behalf last fall. Tissainayagam thanked everyone who helped secure his release in different ways and would like to ask all those who worked hard on his case to extend their support to find journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda, who disappeared on January 25, 2010.

Clothilde Le Coz, Director of Reporters Without Borders – USA, stated that “we are happy to know Tissa is safe. We urge now the President Mahinda Rajapakse to ensure that he will be able to live a normal life and especially resume working as a journalist in Sri Lanka.”

Tissainayagam was named as the first recipient of the first Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism on August 31, 2009, the same day he was convicted to twenty years hard labor on terrorism charges. He was previously hailed by US President Barack Obama as an “emblematic example” of journalists who are persecuted for their craft. His wife, Ronnate Tissainayagam, accepted the Award on his behalf at a ceremony held October 2, 2009 in Washington, DC. On January 11, 2010, Tissainayagam was granted bail and released from the hard labor camp where he was being held. On May 3, 2010, World Press Freedom Day, the Sri Lankan government announced that it would grant Tissainayagam a full pardon. That pardon became official in late June, 2010, and Tissainayagam departed Sri Lanka shortly thereafter.

The Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism was founded in June, 2008 to honor the memory of Peter Mackler, a thirty-five year veteran journalist who championed ethical journalism and freedom of expression, and who helped transform the news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) into the global competitor it is today. The Peter Mackler Award rewards journalists who fight courageously and ethically to report the news in countries where freedom of the press is either not guaranteed or not recognized. The award program is co-sponsored by Global Media Forum (GMF), a media training organization founded by Peter Mackler, and the US branch of the press freedom watchdog group Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Please Join Us At the Peter Mackler Award Ceremony

Reporters Without Borders / The Peter Mackler Award
October 2, 2009
6.00 PM
Please,
Join us for the presentation of the First annual
PETER MACKLER AWARD FOR COURAGEOUS AND ETHICAL JOURNALISM
Recipient : J. S. Tissainayagam
Keynote Speaker: Marcus Brauchli
National Press Club – 529 14th Street, N. W.
Washington DC
Cocktail reception to follow with Silent Auction to benefit the Peter Mackler Award
Please, RSVP at info@pmaward.org by September 20.