TORONTO (November 3) – Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) will honour Chang Ping with the International Press Freedom Award, Asad Aryubwal with the Integrity Award, Ali Mustafa with the Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award and CBC’s Aboriginal team with the Investigative Award at the 2016 CJFE Gala on December 1, 2016, in Toronto.
“CJFE’s annual Gala is a celebration of the people who put their careers, freedom and too often their lives at risk in the name of free expression,” said Tom Henheffer, CJFE’s Executive Director. “It’s our honour to share the stories of this year’s courageous awards recipients, who have worked tirelessly to expose important stories both at home and around the world.”
Award recipients are as follows:
International Press Freedom Award
Chang Ping is one of China’s best-known journalists who reports on political issues. He writes about sensitive topics including democracy, media censorship, the failures of government policy and Tibet. He is the winner of the International Press Freedom Award. This award recognizes the outstanding courage of journalists who work at great personal risk and against enormous odds so that the news media remain free.
Establishing himself in the 1990s, he first reported from Guangzhou. As censorship has tightened in China, Chang’s pleas for transparency and accountability have put him under a political spotlight. In 2011, while working as the editor-in-chief at the now-suspended weekly magazine iSun Affairs in Hong Kong, Ping was denied a work permit and forced to live in exile in Germany with his family. He remains there today and his columns and books are banned in the country.
From Afghanistan, Asad Aryubwal risked his life and his family’s to tell the truth. In a series of interviews with international media, he spoke out against powerful warlords, including Rashid Dostum, who is now the vice-president of Afghanistan.
For warning the Canadian government and others that they were conspiring with a war criminal, Aryubwal was forced into exile with his family and never able to return to his country. Aryubwal spend many years as a refugee in Pakistan, facing constant death threats from the warlord he has exposed.
Aryubwal will be presented with the Integrity Award, awarded to an individual or individuals who acted courageously in the public interest without thought of personal gain, and in doing so risked reprisals in the form of threats to their personal and professional lives.
CBC journalist Connie Walker, along with the CBC Aboriginal team, have reported on the unsolved cases of Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women. By developing a database of hundreds of cold cases, the team has put the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women on the national agenda. Their work has led to the commitment from Canada’s federal government to launch the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
The CBC Aboriginal team will be honoured with the CJFE Investigative Award. Inaugurated in 2015, the Investigative Award celebrates a journalist, investigative researcher or media worker who has made a significant contribution to advancing investigative public interest reporting in Canada.
Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award
Ali Mustafa was a freelance photojournalist, activist and writer from Toronto. His work and politics spanned from writing about the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil to working as a photojournalist in Palestine, Egypt, and Syria.
In 2014, Ali was killed in Aleppo, Syria during an aerial bombing initiated by the Assad government. A military helicopter dropped one bomb and then another after people had gathered to survey the scene. Ali was killed in the second bombing. He was in Syria to continue his work exposing a tragedy that he believed the rest of the world should no longer ignore.
Mustafa is the recipient of the Tara Singh Hayer Memorial Award, which recognizes a Canadian journalist who, through his or her work, has made an important contribution to reinforcing the principle of freedom of the press in this country or elsewhere, and who has taken personal risks or suffered physical reprisals for their work. Mustafa’s photographs will also be on display at the gala’s photo exhibit.
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