Tajik journalist wins first Donner/CJFE Journalist-at-Risk Fellowship

Thursday, June 6, 2002
Toronto, June 6 - Massey College and the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) are pleased to announce that Konstantin Parshin of Tajikistan has been awarded the first-ever Donner/CJFE Journalist-at-Risk Fellowship. Mr. Parshin will be one of seven journalists in the Journalism Fellowship Program of Massey College in the University of Toronto. The Journalist-at-Risk is awarded to a mid-career journalist affected by sectarian or ideological violence and intolerance. Parshin, 36, has had a long and successful career as a journalist in Tajikistan, performing his work under difficult circumstances. In the 1980s, he wrote for a daily newspaper in the capital of Dushanbe. He also helped launch a radio station, and he has written extensively about Tajikistan for such online publications as Eurasianet.com, and Czechoslovakia-based Transitions On Line (TOL.CZ). He has also produced field reports from Dushanbe for the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University and studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Tajikistan, one of 15 former Soviet Republics, became independent in 1991, the same year that all daily newspapers were forced to close. A brutal civil war in 1992-97 left between 20,000 and 50,000 Tajiks dead and forced as many as 800,000 more to flee their homes, according to Human Rights Watch. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has documented the murders of 19 journalists in Tajikistan since 1992 and said in a report last month that "government harassment, intimidation, and censorship regularly stifle press freedom in Tajikistan." Parshin's radio station, Radio NIC, was Tajikistan's first private radio station to receive a broadcasting licence. But according to Internews, an international nonprofit organization supporting open media, Radio NIC's efforts to broadcast regularly were stopped by the government earlier this year and its licence was not renewed. The government gave no reason for its action. Parshin will come to Toronto in September to begin an academic year of study in a variety of disciplines. He plans to return to Tajikistan to resume his journalistic career once the Fellowship ends next spring. The CJFE is a non-governmental, non-profit association of journalists and others who work to promote and defend freedom of expression and media rights in Canada and around the world. Massey College is an interdisciplinary graduate residential college which opened in 1963. The college has been home to the Journalism Fellowship Program since its opening and provides a congenial intellectual environment for the exchange of opinions and ideas. Both Massey and CJFE are partners in developing this experimental fellowship and are grateful for the generosity of the Donner Canadian Foundation. For more information, please contact Joel Ruimy at CJFE, tel: 416 515 9622, fax: 416 515 7879, email: ruimy@cjfe.org.

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