Nobel Peace Prize: Two threatened journalists collect the award



Russian journalist Dmitri Muratov asked for “a minute of silence” for the reporters killed this Friday in Oslo, upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize together with his Philippine colleague Maria Ressa, who blamed US technology groups for the “toxic sludge” spread in social networks.

Maria Ressa, co-founder of the information website Rappler, and Dmitri Muratov, editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, were awarded the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize in early October for their fight “in favor of the freedom of press”.

Let us stand up and honor with a minute of silence our fellow journalists … who gave their lives for this profession, “said Muratov, 60 years old. “I want journalists to die of old age,” he added.

For her part, the Philippine journalist Maria Ressa attacked the large US technology groups for allowing the dissemination of “a toxic sludge” on social networks because of their greed.

Ressa criticized that these groups “are at odds with the facts, at odds with journalists.” “Its nature is to divide and radicalize us,” the 58-year-old journalist explained to an audience reduced by COVID-19.

“With its almost divine power”, its technology “allowed the virus of lies to infect each of us, pitting us against each other, exposing our fears, our rage and our hatred, preparing the ground for the arrival of authoritarian leaders. and dictators, “he said.

Under the gaze of the members of the Norwegian royal family, protected with masks, Ressa underlined the importance of reliable information in electoral or pandemic periods.

However, “without the facts, you cannot have the truth. Without truth, you cannot have confidence. Without trust, we don’t have (…) democracy, and it becomes impossible to face the existential problems of our planet: the climate, the coronavirus, the battle for the truth, “added the head of Rappler.

The day before, Ressa had indicated that “for now, the freedom of the press is threatened”, when asked if this award would change the situation in his country, the Philippines, in position 138 of the list of press freedom made by Reporteros Sin Borders (RSF).

Pending the resolution of the seven pending legal proceedings in the Philippines, Ressa had to request permission from four courts in his country to be able to travel to Norway.

Foreign agent?

For his part, Dmitri Muratov, 60, runs one of the few media that is still independent in the restrictive Russian media landscape.

“Journalism in Russia is going through a dark period,” he said. Novaya Gazeta is known for her investigations into corruption and human rights violations in Chechnya.

Since the 1990s, six collaborators of the outlet have been assassinated, including the famous journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006.

“If we have to become foreign agents to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, we will,” he quipped, referring to the qualifier with which critical media of the Kremlin are accused in Russia.

The label of “foreign agent”, which seeks to discredit the media that receive “foreign funding” and carry “a political activity”, obliges information groups to state this status in all their publications.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the Nobel Prize was not a “shield” against this status. Russia is ranked 150th in the RSF rankings.

But Muratov said he was hoping to escape that label.

“I think that in the 30 years of our newspaper’s existence we have done so many positive things for the country that declaring ourselves ‘foreign agents’ would be detrimental to the power of our country” and “would be stupid,” he said in an interview with AFP.

“Reporting should not continue to cost your life”

Until December 1, 1,636 journalists died in the last 20 years in the world, 46 in 2021, according to RSF data.

“Reporting should not continue to cost your life,” insisted RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire during the presentation of the report this week.

In addition, there have never been so many journalists detained in the world: 293, denounced on Thursday the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), based in the United States.

“Bringing information to the public can in itself prevent war,” said Norwegian Nobel Committee chair Berit Reiss-Andersen.

“The role of the press is to lift the veil of aggression and abuse of power, and thus contribute to peace”he added.

During the Oslo ceremony, the director of the World Food Program, David Beasley, delivered the acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize awarded last year to the UN humanitarian agency.

In 2020, the ceremonies were canceled due to the pandemic. Nobel laureates receive a diploma, a gold medal and a check for 10 million Swedish crowns (plus 1 million dollars).

People congratulating the Nobel Peace Laureates. AFP / T. Pedersen

MS

Topics

  • Attacks on journalists
  • Nobel Peace Prize
  • Journalists
  • Maria Ressa
  • Dmitri Muratov

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