CJFE Marks May 3 World Press Freedom Day

Monday, May 1, 2000
Armed conflict continued to be the most significant factor contributing to ruthless attacks against freedom of expression in the past year - a fact which will be remembered during Canadian celebrations of May 3, World Press Freedom Day. In Toronto, journalists forced into exile because of their profession will share their experiences of press freedom under attack. Journalists in Exile, a new chapter of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), is sponsoring the panel discussion at Ryerson University's Jorgenson Building, Room A344, at 6 p.m. "We want to express solidarity with journalists in countries where freedom of speech is just a dream," says Gordana Knezevic of Bosnia, coordinator of Journalists in Exile. "These are places where being a journalist is the most dangerous job you can imagine." Participating journalists are from Burundi, Iran, Serbia, Sierra Leone and Sri Lanka. In Ottawa, midday celebrations at the National Press Club will include a video presentation of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's World Press Freedom Day statement. A journalist who has contributed nationally or internationally to the cause of press freedom will receive the first National Press Club Press Freedom Award. Exiled Cuban journalist Jorge Luis Arce Cabrera will give a press conference at the Montreal office of the Professional Federation of Quebec Journalists (FPJQ) at 10 a.m. on May 3. Cabrera worked with the independent new agency "Cuba Press" before seeking exile in France last autumn with the help of Reporters sans frontières. May 3 marks the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek, a statement of principles drawn up by African journalists in 1991 calling for a free, independent and pluralistic media on that continent and throughout the world. The declaration affirms that a free press is essential to the existence of democracy and a fundamental human goal. Information on May 3 celebrations worldwide is available from the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX - www.ifex.org). The IFEX Clearing House is operated by CJFE in Toronto on behalf of 50 freedom of expression groups worldwide. Daily alerts, detailing attacks and sometimes killings of journalists, are circulated via e-mail and the Internet in English, French and Spanish. In 1999, the Clearing House reported on the deaths of 52 journalists and media workers. In addition to documenting violations of free expression, IFEX often galvanizes international reaction to attacks on journalists and the free press. For more information on May 3 events, contact: Toronto: CJFE, 416-515-9622; cjfe@cjfe.org Ottawa: National Press Club, 613-233-5641; satcom@netcom.ca Montreal: FPJQ, 514-522-6142; fpjq@cam.org

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