Gala Award Winners

In Canada and around the world, individuals regularly face obstacles in order to get the truth out. Whether the threats be judicial, physical or otherwise, these dedicated and principled individuals continue to work tirelessly—risking their jobs, their freedom and even their lives—so that the news media remain free.

At the CJFE Gala: A Night to Honour Courageous Reporting on November 29, 2018, we presented awards to honour those who champion free expression in different ways.


2018 AWARD WINNERS

.

9588-Elena-Milashina-640x427.jpgInternational Press Freedom Award:
Javier Valdez

Javier Valdez was one of the leading anti-corruption and anti-gang journalists in Mexico. He reported for years on these issues, winning the Sinaloa Journalism Award, Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Journalism Award and CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award.

After tweeting about the murder of his colleague, Miroslava Breach, assailants gunned him down outside Riodoce, the newspaper he founded and continued to work at despite many death threats. He was killed on May 15th, 2017.

“Valdez’s story brings attention to the dire situation in Mexico. This will send a powerful message that things are becoming as dire on our continent as they traditionally have been in non-democratic countries around the world,” said Drysdale.

The award was accepted by Valdez’s wife, Griselda Triana.


 

Robyn_Doolittle_-_Headshot.jpgVox Libera Award:
Michael Geist

Michael Geist is a Canadian academic, Research Chair in E-Commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, and digital rights activist. He writes columns in the Vancouver Sun, Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen and founded the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic.

He successfully led the fight against 2007 legislation that would incorporate the worst aspects of the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act into Canadian law, was a leader in the fight against Bill C-51 and C-31, is actively fighting the dangerous Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, and is also leading the charge to maintain net neutrality against lobbying from Canada’s largest telecoms.

The Vox Libera is awarded to a Canadian individual or organization that has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to the principles of free expression and has had made an important and sustained contribution—at home or abroad—to those same principles.

“Despite his incredible career, Geist has never been recognized by our organization in any formal fashion. The timing is right for him to win this award because of his tireless work to maintain freedom of the press right here at home,” said Tunley.


 

Kim_Bolan_-_Headshot2.jpgTara Singh Hayer Memorial Award:
Capital Gazette Staff

On June 29th, 2018, a gunman entered the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland and opened fire, killing four journalists and one sales assistant.

The Capital Gazette is one of America’s oldest newspapers and has been owned by the Baltimore Sun Media Group since 2014. It started publishing again within a week of the shooting. While known as a small, collegial paper that focuses on light community news, the Gazette also acts as a watchdog for the state capital.

The victims were:

  • Robert Hiaasen, 59,
    • Assistant editor and Sunday columnist
    • Was just announced that his final book, “Float Plan” will be published posthumously on Sept 15
    • He was a veteran reporter known as a mentor to younger staff at the newspaper and taught journalism at the University of Maryland
  • Gerald Fischman, 61
    • Editorial page editor
    • Worked at the paper for more than 25 years
    • Had won awards from the Maryland Press Association for articles about a County Council member accused of censoring public comments
  • John McNamara, 56
    • Reporter
    • Worked at the paper for more than 20 years
    • Worked on general assignment, loved editing, designing and writing about everything from sports to local politics
  • Wendi Winters, 65
    • Editor and community reporter
    • Worked in PR and ran her own business before joining the paper as a journalist
    • Active volunteer with Girl Scouts and Red Cross
  • Rebecca Smith, 34
    • Sales Assistant
    • Had only worked at the paper for one year

The shooter, Jarrod W. Ramos, had been fighting with the newspapers for years. He issued a defamation lawsuit against them in 2011 for a story about harassment charges against him. He had been threatening newspaper staff since the case was dismissed in 2015.

The Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award recognizes a Canadian journalist who, through his or her work, has made an important contribution to reinforcing and promoting the principle of freedom of the press in Canada or elsewhere, and who has taken personal risks or suffered physical reprisals for their work.

“It’s normally awarded to Canadians, but this year we selected Capital Gazette staff because of their incredible work and the horrendous circumstances,” said Tunley. “The story of the Capital Gazette is illustrative of the dangers of the incredibly polarized political landscape and mistrust of journalists currently ongoing in North America today.”


Learn more about CJFE's awards and past recipients

CJFEGala_2015_MG_2212-AndrewWilliamson.jpg

CJFE Executive Director Tom Henheffer with 2015 CJFE Gala award winners Jameel Jaffer, Linda Sills (accepting on behalf of Safa Al Ahmad) and Ken Rubin.

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  • Sadia Haidari
    commented 2019-02-26 09:07:10 -0500
    Pakistan’s first female photo journalist Symbol of dedication and struggle won two international media awards as brave Pakistani female photo journalist Saadia Sehar both awards dedicated to her husband
    The remarkable strength and courage of the eagle have inspired mankind throughout the ages. In ancient times the battles between the sun and the clouds were considered as battles between an eagle and a serpent and the eagle was held in awe and worshiped for its majestic figure and superb qualities. Because of their strength, eagles have been a mark of war and imperial power since Babylonian times. In Assyrian myths the eagle was the symbol of storms and lightning and the god who carried souls to Hades. The eagle was the sacred bird of Zeus, the ruler of all gods. The Greeks represented eagles with wings outstretched, holding a serpent in their claws, which signified the triumph of good over evil. In Rome, an eagle was the symbol of Jupiter, the supreme god. For the Romans the eagle was the sign of victory. As Roman legions conquered the world, they marched under the standard of the eagle, with outstretched wings. First time this correspondent met Saadia at JINNAH STADIUM Islamabad where she was with camera Gun for covering the South Asian Games (9th SAF Games) were held in Islamabad, Pakistan in 2004. The slogan for these Games was EAGLE “Rising Above”. A Symbol of love, dedication and struggle, Pakistan’s first female photo journalist SAADIA SEHAR was the Pakistan’s first female photo journalist and her aim was also Rising Above at the start of her journalistic career. Pakistan’s first female photo journalist/ Feature writer won two international media awards at a colorful simple ceremony held at Washington DC United States of America and prove her commitment and dedication with this noble profession , the sources close to Saadia Sehar in USA confirmed on other day to The Daily MAIL Islamabad that the brave Pakistani female photo journalist win both categories got many Congratulations, the Best female photo and video journalist award Saadia Sehar dedicated to her husband of Pakistan. Earlier the Rural Media Network Pakistan, a non-profit organization, recognized her bravery and courage, awarding her Pkr 125,000 ($1,406) in an annual press freedom prize, sponsored by the World Association of Newspapers & News Publishers. “The recognition of Saadia for the award is a symbol of struggle for the right of information and a reminder to international community about the tragic conditions Pakistan has been suffering since the war on terror after 9/11 attacks. “Saadia Sehar has set a new precedent for women in Pakistan media by adopting her husband‘s profession after his brutal murder.”Saadia Sehar after the death of her husband, a Reuter’s photojournalist, decided to remember him by pursuing photography herself, first time this correspondent met saadia at JINNAH STADIUM Islamabad where she was with camera for covering the South Asian Games (9th SAF Games) were held in Islamabad, Pakistan in 2004.which was Originally scheduled for 2001, these games were postponed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States .The slogan for these Games was “Rising Above”. The games in Islamabad were originally to be held in 2001, but they were inevitably rescheduled with the location remaining unchanged) for March 29 through April 6, 2003, due to the invasion of Afghanistan. Afghanistan was invited for the games, however Bhutan and India withdrew. Saadia Sehar was that day very upset due to the sudden death of her husband an afghan national photographer Aziz Ullah Haidari who was associated with world largest media organization Reuter. Photographer Aziz Ullah Haidari ,on 19 November 2001 Saadia Sehar received a call from the Reuters Pakistan bureau photographer Aziz Ullah Haidari killed ,when a convoy of journalists was ambushed in Afghanistan. Saadi is a very strong and brave lady she stated in a interview that‘’I remember the wife of my husband’s colleague standing in front of me telling me, “Be strong Saadia”, “Hold yourself”. Those words broke me inside.’’ I was married on 28 January 1996 after a four-year love affair. We faced many problems from our families; they were against our marriage because we came from different cultures and countries. It was the first experience our family had had of intercultural marriage saadia added.She further stated Aziz had joined Reuters in November 1991 as a correspondent and photographer. We met for the first time in a private academy where we both taught.He was smart and handsome, still I had no intention of marrying him. But over time, he became a good friend and we fell in love. Within a year of marriage we become a parent a beautiful baby girl, and three years later an equally precious son, she said.

    Saadia told ‘’I quit my job and settled happily into life looking after our family and home, which was everything to me. In 2001 ‘’Aziz went to London for three weeks hostile training for media on the frontline. When he returned, she added. Reuters suddenly assigned him to Afghanistan in anticipation of a US attack. I was so relieved when it was cancelled; we returned from Turkham, a town on the Pakistani-Afghan border, but just a month later the US did attack and took the Afghan capital Kabul, and my husband prepared along with his journalist friends from all over Pakistan to go to war.‘’I was terrified for him. I knew that there was no safe place where they were going, for him or anyone else. I tried to talk him out of accepting the assignment, but his bureau chief threatened to sack him unless he agreed to go. He left with a heavy heart. Before he went, he looked unusually tired and my intuition indicated that something bad was going to happen.‘’He left Pakistan on 17 November 2001 and arrived in the Jalalabad province of Afghanistan the following day. Journalists across the world were gathered in the same hotel where my husband was staying with his friends and colleagues. They planned to go to Tora Bora but fighting between NATO and the Taliban had already begun there.’’They changed their plan and travelled towards Kabul. On the morning of 19 November 2001, a 28-car convoy of journalists moved out from Jalalabad to Kabul, a distance of 67 miles.After two hours the convey slowed through Aba-e- tung Rashum, a narrow pass where only one car could pass as a time and blind turns made the road treacherous, she explained. Furthermore she said suddenly the three cars heading the convoy, isolated from the others behind them by the narrow road, and was stopped by eleven armed men recognizable as Taliban despite their faces being covered with turbans. Three years later in court, Raza Khan, a man later convicted as one of the murderers, described the terrible order of events that followed, she said.Saadid said that my husband and three other foreign journalists – one Spanish man, one Australian and one female Italian were ambushed. ‘’ Taliban commander, disturbed by the Spanish man’s shouting, first ordered Raza Khan to shoot him on the spot. My husband begged in his own language for mercy, to no avail, she stated .Saadia told that’’ the female journalist was raped and had her legs broken before she too was killed; all four were physically tortured prior to death.’’ My husband was singled out as the only Muslim in the group, before being killed by the commander ‘she said..Khan was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. The murderers turned out to be a group working for the Taliban.
    Saadia told this correspondent that ‘’when I found out the news, I ran to my parents’ house with my children, crying, ‘my father opened the door and fell down with a heart attack on hearing the news.’’ We were utterly broken by it she said.‘’I was so angry at the Taliban for killing these people like animals. I thought after my husband’s death that I wouldn’t be able to live without him.I didn’t talk about it to my children, I never did. Eight years on though, they know now that their father was.’’The Reuters offered me a job in their office and I joined them because I used to visit there to see my husband – it allowed me to feel close to him. I felt that he was with me and would be coming back soon.After starting my journalism career at Reuters, I demanded that they give me my husband’s old position. They refused, saying senior Pakistani photographers were never women. They told me I would not be able to go in the field or write a story, and said I should stay at home instead she stated
    ‘’After one and half years I quit and joined Visual News as a reporter and photojournalist, a role I eventually held for six years. The boss of this association was my husband’s friend, who had supported my professional development. I accepted this profession for my beloved Aziz. I wanted to fulfill his mission and keep his name alive as long as I live.‘’I was in fact a good photographer before, a skill inherited from my uncles and grandfather – M. Bhatti, a famous Pakistani photographer himself. But by taking up this role, I became Pakistan’s first employed female photojournalist.To a question about criticism, she said ‘’ Of course, I got a lot of criticism from male colleagues and still do to this day, but I accept the challenges for my husband.‘’As part of my job I travel a lot all over the country; my parents kindly look after my children whenever I am away. I finished my masters in mass communication and am now a successful journalist, feature writer and video journalist as well as photographer. Talking about she said that ‘’my children are good and hardworking, and help me all the time despite my frequent absences from their lives. I think they know that I have sacrificed my life for them and their beloved father’’she added. This proud for me that I am the first female photojournalist in Pakistan a got award on international level. Saadia said ”i am dedicated both international awards to my shaheed< martyred> husband”. Broken-hearted Saadia, a Pakistani who had fought with her conservative parents to accept her mixed marriage, was in a complete state of shock.“I never thought he would leave me like this,” she said, Before Saadia Sehar’s husband went to cover a story in Afghanistan for Reuters, she teased him to grow a beard before attempting to report on the Taliban.Fearful of what could happen to journalists brave enough to cover post 9/11 Afghanistan, just two months after the terrorist attacks that struck America in September 2001, Saadia warned Aziz Ullah Haidari, an Afghan, to stay away from the war.He had been working at the news agency for five years as a correspondent and photographer.On November 17, despite her warnings, he travelled from Pakistan to the Jalalabad province.“When he left, it was the first day of Ramadan. He was fasting,” she said.As he and dozens of foreign journalists made their way to Kabul, their convoy was ambushed. Aziz, the 33 year old man Saadia had been married to for five years, the father of her two young children, was killed. Armed men working for the Taliban shot dead at least three male journalists, including Aziz, and brutally raped one Italian female journalist before breaking her bones and then murdering her too. Broken-hearted Saadia, a Pakistani who had fought with her conservative parents to accept her mixed marriage, was in a complete state of shock.“I never thought he would leave me like this,” she said, in an interview with the Doha Centre for Media Freedom. Having given up working, she was a full-time housewife with a penchant for taking photographs.“I wanted to carry on in his field,” she explained. “I wanted to carry on his mission and journalism.”As a single mother starting from scratch, Saadia has become a prominent photojournalist in the country over the past decade. She’s worked for publications, newswires and development organizations including Nikhar, a local urdu weekly, the INP news agency, UNICEF and the Xinhua News agency. Earlier the Rural Media Network Pakistan, a non-profit organization, recognized her bravery and courage, awarding her Pkr 125,000 ($1,406) in an annual press freedom prize, sponsored by the World Association of Newspapers & News Publishers.“The recognition of Saadia for the award is a symbol of struggle for the right of information and a reminder to international community about the tragic conditions Pakistan has been suffering since the war on terror after 9/11 attacks. “Saadia Sehar has set a new precedent for women in Pakistan media by adopting her husband‘s profession after his brutal murder.”Being married to a well-known and successful journalist did not open any doors for her as she attempted to break into journalism.“We live in a male oriented society,” said the photojournalist. “When I joined this field, it was mostly men that discouraged me. ‘You are a woman, you can’t do this’ they told me. ‘How can you hold a camera? How can you network in a seminar? How can you cover a protest?’ they asked me.”After a brief stint at her husband’s former employer Reuters, Saadia quit after the bureau chief refused to allow her to take on Aziz’s position completely. Desperate to continue his legacy, she moved to Visual News where she worked for six years. Speaking about a traumatic job she covered, reporting from northern Pakistan in 2005 after a devastating earthquake hit, she describes the experience as ‘the most memorable.’“I remember that one clearly,” she said. “I felt very sad. I saw lots of situations there; people trapped in houses, people injured, people dying. In Muzaffarabad, I saw a lot of death and damage. Villages were totally destroyed. I was there for one week, without any clothes or food. I filed a big story, and I still remember it as an important experience in my life.”As the environment for journalists in Pakistan has worsened, however, the most troubling events in media are no longer having to cover disasters. The country’s record for its treatment of journalists is in decline, and Saadia has not escaped the brutality often inflicted on those working in the industry. In September 2007, she was beaten and arrested by police in the capital city, Islamabad, while covering a demonstration against former military dictator Pervez Musharraf . At least 12 other journalists were also injured. Two months later, she was again arrested and detained for a night in Islamabad while protesting against the ban on GEO, a television station, from transmitting.“I think our media is not free,” she said. “When we want to say anything, when we want to talk about the reality, they punish us. I’ve left jobs because of that. I had to file stories and pictures that don’t hold any truth in Pakistan. They don’t want any truth.”But with a decade of experience under her belt, Saadia looks set to continue her husband’s legacy, regardless of restrictions.“He wanted to help poor people, and document their lives and struggles,” she said. “He worked for the freedom of the press. ‘I want to free the press. I want freedom of speech. If you don’t have freedom of speech, you can’t say anything’ he used to say to me.”
    Pakistan’s first female photo journalist/ Feature writer won two international media awards at a colorful simple ceremony held at Washington DC United States of America, sources close to Saadia Sehar in USA confirmed on other day to The Daily MAIL Islamabad that the brave Pakistani female photo journalist won both categories got many Congratulations, the Best female photo and video journalist awards Saadia Sehar dedicated to her husband. . Earlier the Rural Media Network Pakistan, a non-profit organization, recognized her bravery and courage, awarding her Pkr 125,000 ($1,406) in an annual press freedom prize, sponsored by the World Association of Newspapers & News Publishers. “The recognition of Saadia for the award is a symbol of struggle for the right of information and a reminder to international community about the tragic conditions Pakistan has been suffering since the war on terror after 9/11 attacks. “Saadia Sehar has set a new precedent for women in Pakistan media by adopting her husband‘s profession after his brutal murder.”Saadia Sehar after the death of her husband, a Reuter’s photojournalist, decided to remember him by pursuing photography herself, this correspondent first time met him at JINNAH STADIUM Islamabad where she was with camera for covering the South Asian Games (9th SAF Games) were held in Islamabad, Pakistan in 2004.which was Originally scheduled for 2001, these games were postponed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the United States .The slogan for these Games was “Rising Above”. The games in Islamabad were originally to be held in 2001, but they were inevitably rescheduled with the location remaining unchanged) for March 29 through April 6, 2003, due to the invasion of Afghanistan. Afghanistan was invited for the games, however Bhutan and India withdrew. Saadia Sehar was that day very upset due to the sudden death of her husband an afghan national photographer Aziz Ullah Haidari who was associated with world largest media organization Reuter. Photographer Aziz Ullah Haidari ,on 19 November 2001 Saadia Sehar received a call from the Reuters Pakistan bureau photographer Aziz Ullah Haidari killed ,when a convoy of journalists was ambushed in Afghanistan. Saadi is a very strong and brave lady she stated in a interview that’i remember the wife of my husband’s colleague standing in front of me telling me, “Be strong Saadia”, “Hold yourself”. Those words broke me inside.’’ I was married on 28 January 1996 after a four-year love affair. We faced many problems from our families; they were against our marriage because we came from different cultures and countries. It was the first experience our family had had of intercultural marriage saadia added.She further stated Aziz had joined Reuters in November 1991 as a correspondent and photographer. We met for the first time in a private academy where we both taught. He was smart and handsome, still I had no intention of marrying him. But over time, he became a good friend and we fell in love. Within a year of marriage we become a parent a beautiful baby girl, and three years later an equally precious son, she said.

    Saadia told ‘’I quit my job and settled happily into life looking after our family and home, which was everything to me. In 2001 ‘’Aziz went to London for three weeks hostile training for media on the frontline. When he returned, she added. Reuters suddenly assigned him to Afghanistan in anticipation of a US attack. I was so relieved when it was cancelled; we returned from Turkham, a town on the Pakistani-Afghan border, but just a month later the US did attack and took the Afghan capital Kabul, and my husband prepared along with his journalist friends from all over Pakistan to go to war. ‘I was terrified for him. I knew that there was no safe place where they were going, for him or anyone else. I tried to talk him out of accepting the assignment, but his bureau chief threatened to sack him unless he agreed to go. He left with a heavy heart. Before he went, he looked unusually tired and my intuition indicated that something bad was going to happen. ‘He left Pakistan on 17 November 2001 and arrived in the Jalalabad province of Afghanistan the following day. Journalists across the world were gathered in the same hotel where my husband was staying with his friends and colleagues. They planned to go to Tora Bora but fighting between NATO and the Taliban had already begun there.’’They changed their plan and travelled towards Kabul. On the morning of 19 November 2001, a 28-car convoy of journalists moved out from Jalalabad to Kabul, a distance of 67 miles.After two hours the convey slowed through Aba-e- tung Rashum, a narrow pass where only one car could pass as a time and blind turns made the road treacherous, she explained. Furthermore she said suddenly the three cars heading the convoy, isolated from the others behind them by the narrow road, and was stopped by eleven armed men recognizable as Taliban despite their faces being covered with turbans. Three years later in court, Raza Khan, a man later convicted as one of the murderers, described the terrible order of events that followed, she said.Saadia said that my husband and three other foreign journalists – one Spanish man, one Australian and one female Italian were ambushed. ‘’ Taliban commander, disturbed by the Spanish man’s shouting, first ordered Raza Khan to shoot him on the spot. My husband begged in his own language for mercy, to no avail, she stated .Saadia told that’’ the female journalist was raped and had her legs broken before she too was killed; all four were physically tortured prior to death.’’ My husband was singled out as the only Muslim in the group, before being killed by the commander ‘she said..Khan was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging. The murderers turned out to be a group working for the Taliban.
    Saadia told this correspondent that ‘’when I found out the news, I ran to my parents’ house with my children, crying, ‘my father opened the door and fell down with a heart attack on hearing the news.’’ We were utterly broken by it she said.‘’I was so angry at the Taliban for killing these people like animals. I thought after my husband’s death that I wouldn’t be able to live without him.I didn’t talk about it to my children, I never did. Eight years on though, they know now that their father was.’’The Reuters offered me a job in their office and I joined them because I used to visit there to see my husband – it allowed me to feel close to him. I felt that he was with me and would be coming back soon.After starting my journalism career at Reuters, I demanded that they give me my husband’s old position. They refused, saying senior Pakistani photographers were never women. They told me I would not be able to go in the field or write a story, and said I should stay at home instead she stated
    ‘’After one and half years I quit and joined Visual News as a reporter and photojournalist, a role I eventually held for six years. The boss of this association was my husband’s friend, who had supported my professional development. I accepted this profession for my beloved Aziz. I wanted to fulfill his mission and keep his name alive as long as I live. ‘I was in fact a good photographer before, a skill inherited from my uncles and grandfather – M. Bhatti, a famous Pakistani photographer himself. But by taking up this role, I became Pakistan’s first employed female photojournalist. To a question about criticism, she said ‘’ Of course, I got a lot of criticism from male colleagues and still do to this day, but I accept the challenges for my husband. ‘As part of my job I travel a lot all over the country; my parents kindly look after my children whenever I am away. I finished my masters in mass communication and am now a successful journalist, feature writer and video journalist as well as photographer. Talking about she said that ‘’my children are good and hardworking, and help me all the time despite my frequent absences from their lives. I think they know that I have sacrificed my life for them and their beloved father ‘she added. This proud for me that I am the first female photojournalist in Pakistan a got award on international level. Saadia said ”i am dedicated both international awards to my shaheed< martyred> husband”. Broken-hearted Saadia, a Pakistani who had fought with her conservative parents to accept her mixed marriage, was in a complete state of shock.“I never thought he would leave me like this,” she said, Before Saadia Sehar’s husband went to cover a story in Afghanistan for Reuters, she teased him to grow a beard before attempting to report on the Taliban.Fearful of what could happen to journalists brave enough to cover post 9/11 Afghanistan, just two months after the terrorist attacks that struck America in September 2001, Saadia warned Aziz Ullah Haidari, an Afghan, to stay away from the war.He had been working at the news agency for five years as a correspondent and photographer. On November 17, despite her warnings, he travelled from Pakistan to the Jalalabad province.“When he left, it was the first day of Ramadan. He was fasting,” she said.As he and dozens of foreign journalists made their way to Kabul, their convoy was ambushed. Aziz, the 33 year old man Saadia had been married to for five years, the father of her two young children, was killed. Armed men working for the Taliban shot dead at least three male journalists, including Aziz, and brutally raped one Italian female journalist before breaking her bones and then murdering her too. Broken-hearted Saadia, a Pakistani who had fought with her conservative parents to accept her mixed marriage, was in a complete state of shock.“I never thought he would leave me like this,” she said, in an interview with the Doha Centre for Media Freedom. Having given up working, she was a full-time housewife with a penchant for taking photographs.“I wanted to carry on in his field,” she explained. “I wanted to carry on his mission and journalism.”As a single mother starting from scratch, Saadia has become a prominent photojournalist in the country over the past decade. She’s worked for publications, newswires and development organizations including Nikhar, a local urdu weekly, the INP news agency, UNICEF and the Xinhua News agency. Earlier the Rural Media Network Pakistan, a non-profit organization, recognized her bravery and courage, awarding her Pkr 125,000 ($1,406) in an annual press freedom prize, sponsored by the World Association of Newspapers & News Publishers.“The recognition of Saadia for the award is a symbol of struggle for the right of information and a reminder to international community about the tragic conditions Pakistan has been suffering since the war on terror after 9/11 attacks. “Saadia Sehar has set a new precedent for women in Pakistan media by adopting her husband‘s profession after his brutal murder.”Being married to a well-known and successful journalist did not open any doors for her as she attempted to break into journalism.“We live in a male oriented society,” said the photojournalist. “When I joined this field, it was mostly men that discouraged me. ‘You are a woman, you can’t do this’ they told me. ‘How can you hold a camera? How can you network in a seminar? How can you cover a protest?’ they asked me.”After a brief stint at her husband’s former employer Reuters, Saadia quit after the bureau chief refused to allow her to take on Aziz’s position completely. Desperate to continue his legacy, she moved to Visual News where she worked for six years. Speaking about a traumatic job she covered, reporting from northern Pakistan in 2005 after a devastating earthquake hit, she describes the experience as ‘the most memorable.’“I remember that one clearly,” she said. “I felt very sad. I saw lots of situations there; people trapped in houses, people injured, people dying. In Muzaffarabad, I saw a lot of death and damage. Villages were totally destroyed. I was there for one week, without any clothes or food. I filed a big story, and I still remember it as an important experience in my life.”As the environment for journalists in Pakistan has worsened, however, the most troubling events in media are no longer having to cover disasters. The country’s record for its treatment of journalists is in decline, and Saadia has not escaped the brutality often inflicted on those working in the industry. In September 2007, she was beaten and arrested by police in the capital city, Islamabad, while covering a demonstration against former military dictator Pervez Musharraf . At least 12 other journalists were also injured. Two months later, she was again arrested and detained for a night in Islamabad while protesting against the ban on GEO, a television station, from transmitting.“I think our media is not free,” she said. “When we want to say anything, when we want to talk about the reality, they punish us. I’ve left jobs because of that. I had to file stories and pictures that don’t hold any truth in Pakistan. They don’t want any truth.”But with a decade of experience under her belt, Saadia looks set to continue her husband’s legacy, regardless of restrictions.“He wanted to help poor people, and document their lives and struggles,” she said. “He worked for the freedom of the press. ‘I want to free the press. I want freedom of speech. If you don’t have freedom of speech, you can’t say anything’ he used to say to me.”
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    published this page in CJFE Gala 2018-12-20 17:47:24 -0500