For the past 14 years, the Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards have honoured some of the most remarkable advocates and fighters for freedom of expression from around the globe. SAGE was incredibly proud to be lead sponsors of the awards again this year as Index Chair, broadcaster and journalist David Aaronovitch took to the stage to kick off the 2014 awards ceremony.
Attended by over 200 people and hosted at the incredibly atmospheric Barbican Centre, attendees were taken on a history tour of Index, as they were confronted by life-size journal covers displaying the leading stories and issues that Index has covered across the decades.
This year’s shortlist was stronger than ever, being drawn from over 300 public nominations. Speaking of the awards, Ziyad Marar, SAGE’s Global Publishing Director remarked:
“Being closely involved with Index, both as their publisher and wider supporting partners, our sense of the hugely important contribution that Index has made, both nationally and globally in advocating the importance of free expression, never fails to astound me. The awards again this year recognized the global struggles against free speech and highlighted the truly inspirational advocates, shining a light on their ongoing struggle against censorship around the world. Here at SAGE we passionately believe that the free expression of ideas leads to healthy minds and healthy cultures and our partnership with Index to support this mission is one that we highly value. We offer our congratulations to all the winners for their inspiring achievements, and extend our admiration to all those shortlisted for their incredible work fighting for the freedom of speech.”
Throughout the award’s 14 year history the event has celebrated remarkable people who champion free expression, often at great personal risk, through the mediums of traditional journalism, across digital platforms, within the arts from plays to cartoons and within the human rights sector. Last night’s winners were no exception:
One of the few remaining independent media outlets in Azerbaijan, Azadliq has continued to report on government corruption and cronyism in spite of increasing pressures and a financial squeeze enforced by the authorities.
Shahzad Ahmad leads the fight against online censorship in Pakistan. He has sued the Pakistani government over their suspected use of surveillance software, FinFisher, and he is also suing the government over its ongoing blocking of YouTube which deprives the people of Pakistan of one of the world’s most popular video channels.
Mayam Mahmoud, Hip-hop Artist, Egypt
Egyptian rapper Mayam Mahmoud uses hip-hop to address issues such as sexual harassment and to stand up for women’s rights in the country that, after the hope of Tahrir Square, is slipping back into authoritarianism. According to a recent UN survey, 99.3% of women reported being sexually harassed.
Journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary is the brains behind CCNET SWARA (Voice of Chhattisgarh) a mobile-phone service that allows citizens to upload and listen to hyper-local reports in their local language, thus circumventing India’s strict radio licensing and creatively providing an outlet for overlooked people on the wrong side of the digital divide.