Canadian Kim Bolan wins IWMF Courage in Journalism Award

Monday, September 27, 1999
On October 20, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) will celebrate its 10th Annual "Courage in Journalism Awards" at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The lunch event takes place from 12pm û 2pm, and is attended by many of the leading journalists in North America. This year, IWMF will recognize three women journalists for bravery in the field: Sharifa Akhlas (Afghanistan, now in Pakistan); Kim Bolan (Canada); and Aferdita Kelmendi (Kosovo). In addition, IWMF will present its "Lifetime Achievement Award" to Peggy Peterman, former reporter and editorial writer for the St. Petersburg Times (Florida). Please see the attached bios for more information. The IWMF Courage in Journalism Award honours journalists who have demonstrated extraordinary qualities in pursuing their craft under difficult and often dangerous circumstances. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression nominated Canadian Kim Bolan for one of this year's "Courage In Journalism Award." Kim has been a reporter for The Vancouver Sun in Vancouver, Canada since 1984. From the start of her career, she has focused on the Indo-Canadian community in Vancouver, and her coverage has led to critical breaks in the 1985 bombing of an Air India jet and a police investigation of a local independent school which was being controlled by several suspects in the bombing. Since December 1997, Kim has received death threats by mail, by telephone, and via local Punjabi-language radio shows in conjunction with these stories. She continues her reporting, but is now under police supervision, and is escorted on assignment. Kim reports that she plans to pursue the Air India case until charges are filed and to cover the trial. IWMF was founded in 1990 to advance the role of women in the media throughout the world, based on the belief that no press is truly free unless women share an equal voice. IWMF is co-chaired by Kerry Smith Marash (ABC News) and Cynthia Tucker (The Atlanta Constitution). Sherry Rockey serves as Executive Director. For more information on IWMF, the 1999 Courage In Journalism Awards, or this year's award recipients, or to reserve a working press seat at the event, please contact: Shelly Cryer, 212/665-0588 (tel); 212/663-6206 (fax); scryer@erols.com (email). Bios Here's more complete information on the winners of the IWMF Courage In Journalism Awards and Lifetime Achievement Award. *Sharifa Akhlas was born and educated in Afghanistan, but now works in exile as a radio and television producer and reporter for the Afghan Media Resource Center (AMRC) based in Peshawar, Pakistan. In 1992, when the Taliban began instituting bans on working women in Afghanistan, Sharifa began to work secretly for the AMRC, filing reports on human rights, children, women, and social issues. In order to avoid detection by the Taliban, she moved frequently. After her reporting was discovered by the Taliban in 1998, Sharifa was arrested and beaten. To secure her release, her husband and father had to promise to keep her from reporting, or face arrest themselves. She subsequently escaped to Pakistan with her family, but still continues to move around to avoid detection. In her current work with the AMRC, she furtively travels back into Afghanistan, risking her life to interview women and bring news to the international community. *Kim Bolan has been a reporter for The Vancouver Sun in Vancouver, Canada since 1984. From the start of her career, she has focused on the Indo-Canadian community in Vancouver, and her coverage has led to critical breaks in the 1985 bombing of an Air India jet and a police investigation of a local independent school which was being controlled by several suspects in the bombing. Since December 1997, Kim has received death threats by mail, by telephone, and via local Punjabi-language radio shows in conjunction with these stories. She continues her reporting, but is now under police supervision, and is escorted on assignment. Kim reports that she plans to pursue the Air India case until charges are filed and to cover the trials. *Aferdita Kelmendi is co-founder of the Media Project and Director of Radio/TV 21, the only independent station in Pristina, Kosovo. In the span of a few days in March 1999, Aferdita watched as her station was destroyed, found that a colleague had been killed, and learned she was on a hit list. She escaped from Kosovo with her family and initially went to a deportee camp in Macedonia. From there, the family relocated to Skopje, Macedonia where Aferdita quickly re-established transmission and began broadcasting in exile. But she wanted to go back "to help give people their voice backàI know we can start over even though we have nothing." When the fighting subsided, Aferdita returned to Pristina and on July 15, she began live radio transmissions and Radio 21 became the first Albanian-language radio station to broadcast from Kosovo. *The Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to Peggy Peterman, a reporter, columnist and editorial writer who retired in 1996 after more than 30 years with the St. Petersburg Times in St. Petersburg, Florida. Peggy has fought the twin battles of racism and sexism in the newsroom to open doors for minority and women journalists alike. She began her career in 1965 as a writer on the "Negro News Page," which she soon successfully lobbied to have abolished because she felt it promoted segregation. In recent years, Peggy has worked with young minority journalists to help them break into the news business.

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