The winners of the 2017 Freedom of Expression Awards, run by Index on Censorship have been announced and include a Chinese cartoonist, a Russian LGBT campaigner and a brave journalistic team from the Maldives.
Red Pepper (AKA Wang Liming) won in the Arts category, in recognition of his struggles as a political, cartoonist, satirising and criticising China’s government.
Liming said: ‘Since 2010, I have been adhering to the use of cartoons as a weapon against the Communist Party of China’s totalitarianism. The CPC’s blockade and crackdown on freedom of expression has never ceased. Their persecution against me has not stopped.’
He has refused to be silenced by the regime and will continue his work as a a fellow of the Index on Censorship Scheme.
Ildar Dadin is a Russian opposition and LGBT campaigner, jailed for staging a number of silent, one-man protests against Putin’s latest election victory.
Unable to attend the awards due to travel restrictions imposed upon him by the security services in Russia, Dadin may have been released from jail but remains imprisoned in his own home and his own country.
He refuses to stop speaking out and hopes that the award and fellowship will allow him to continue and promote his work worldwide.
Anastasia Zotova accepted the 2017 Campaigning Award on behalf of her husband Ildar Dadin. (Photo: Elina Kansikas for Index on Censorship)
Turkey Blocks, led by Turkish British Technologist Alp Toker, won the digital activism award for their work monitoring restriction on free expression online in Turkey.
The organisation use software to track black outs and other censorship practices online and have reported 14 instances of online censorship links to Turkish authorities since 2016.
‘Our alerts, issued within minutes of detection, have helped Turkish citizens to stay online when shutdowns get implemented and provided the media with enough confidence to report assertively on digital censorship in Turkey.’ — Alp Toker
Maldives Independent won the Media fellow award, battling an increasingly oppressive regime in the Maldives. Following increasing crackdowns on ‘defamation’, which have allowed the government to heavily fine and even shut down media outlets, Maldives Independent is one of the only remaining independent media outlets.
Editor Zahenna Rasheed, who herself had to flee a violent police raid on the Maldives Independent offices this year said: ‘“Journalists in the Maldives have taken unprecedented risks in reporting on human rights, business corruption and abuse of authority. I believe a free press is crucial, essential in protecting human rights.’
SAGE Publishing’s Ziyad Marar, 2017 Freedom of Expression Award Journalism Fellow Zaheena Rasheed, Maldives Independent’s Ahmed Naish, CNN London bureau chief Tommy Evans (Photo: Elina Kansikas for Index on Censorship)