CJFE announces recipients of 10th annual International Press Freedom Awards

Monday, October 1, 2007
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) is proud to honour Farida Nekzad of Afghanistan and Sahar Al-Haideri of Iraq with the 2007 International Press Freedom Awards for their commitment to freedom of expression and overcoming tremendous odds to report news. Farida Nekzad works as a journalist promoting press freedom and women's rights in Afghanistan. She is the current editor in chief of the Pajhwok News Agency, the sole independent news agency in Afghanistan. Sahar Al-Haideri was killed this year for unflinchingly reporting on humanitarian issues in Iraq, including the plight of women and minority groups. She wrote in the most dangerous circumstances, challenging and exposing the human rights violations of the extremist groups in her home town of Mosul. Ali Iman Sharmarke is the recipient of the Tara Singh Hayer Award, which recognizes Canadians for courage in journalism. Mr. Sharmarke returned to his homeland of Somalia to help rebuild the media in the war-shattered country. He was killed on August 11, 2007, when his car drove over a remote-controlled landmine as he was returning from the funeral of another journalist, Mahad Ahmed Elmi. This year marks the tenth year anniversary of the International Press Freedom Awards. In the 10 years since the awards inception, approximately 1,000 journalists have been killed on the job. CJFE is planning to mark the anniversary with a dramatic look back on a decade of award winners through a retrospective of their struggles and triumphs to report the news in a dangerous world. CJFE hopes that Farida Nekzad and the husband of Sahar Al-Haideri will be able to travel to Toronto, Canada to attend the gala awards ceremony at the Arcadian Court on November 1, 2007 where they will be guests of honour. The award winners and their families will receive $3,000 in prize money from CJFE and will be flown to the ceremony courtesy of Air Canada. "We feel this year's winners represent the best of the local journalists, working in impossible war-time conditions, and never giving up until they get the story out" stated Chair of the Awards committee, Carol Off. "The fact that two out of three of our winners have died for their work is a stark reminder of how dangerous that work can be." This year's event is made possible by the support of Evening Sponsor, Scotiabank, Platinum Sponsor CTV and the Reception Sponsor, CBC, along with the valued support of other organizations across the media, legal, academic and business communities. About CJFE CJFE is an independent non-profit association of more than 300 journalists, editors, publishers, broadcasters, students and others who work to promote and defend free expression and press freedom in Canada and around the world. Proceeds from the annual awards dinner help protect free expression in Canada, and support embattled journalists around the world. Full biographies can be found at www.cjfe.org

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