|13TH ANNUAL HUMAN RIGHTS PRESS AWARDS
21 MARCH 2009
GUEST SPEAKER CHING CHEONG CALLS FOR RELEASE
OF POLITICAL PRISONERS TO MARK
PRC’S 60TH ANNIVERSARY
MORE THAN 200 ENTRIES FROM ACROSS REGION
COMPETE FOR PRESTIGIOUS JOURNALISM AWARDS
Journalists from Bangladesh to South Korea submitted a total of 215 entries in the 2008 Human Rights Press Awards, Asia’s most prestigious journalism competition. The prizes were awarded at a luncheon held on 21 March at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong.
The awards are co-organized by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Hong Kong Journalists Association and Amnesty International Hong Kong. This was the first year that eligibility was expanded to include journalists from Macau, a well as foreign correspondents across Asia.
This year’s distinguished guest speaker was journalist Ching Cheong, chief China correspondent for the Straits Times who spent more than a 1,000 days in Chinese prisons on espionage charges and was freed just 13 months ago after an international campaign for his release.
Mr Ching urged President Hu Jintao to free political prisoners as an act of recognition for all those who have died since 1949 under Communist rule.
“I think the CCP owes the Chinese people an apology,” he said. “As a token of remorse it should seriously consider the proposal by many legal experts in the mainland to declare a special pardon for political prisoners on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China, to prove that it would have a fresh start with the people.”
There were 98 submissions in the English-language categories. The judges gave seven (7) Award Plaques and 16 Certificates of Merit.
There were 54 entries in the Chinese-language categories. The judges gave five (5) Award Plaques and 11 Certificates of Merit.
In the Photography category, judged by a separate panel, there were 63 entries. The judges gave one (1) Award Plaque and six (6) Certificates of Merit.
The Awards include news, features, magazines, commentary and analysis, radio, television, cartoons and online publication. They honor high-quality reporting on any area under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
FCC President Ernst Herb said the Awards Ceremony “once again offers us a timely opportunity to demonstrate our unwavering commitment to press freedom and to the right of free expression.”
Milabel Amar, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, said “the right to seek, give, receive and share information without fear or apprehension of persecution is a right that must be available to, and freely exercised by everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, religion or political affiliation: the enjoyment of other human rights that ensure lives of dignity are anchored on this.”
Stanley Leung, Honorary Treasurer of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, called on more large news organizations to take part.
“We can see quite a good number of entries are submitted by news agencies and they select the best internally before they submit for the Awards. Comparatively speaking, such agencies are few, but we believe that if more of them were willing to enter the competition, they would definitely increase concerns about human rights in society.
“This year (2009) is considered a politically sensitive year, and we believe there will be many worthwhile news stories for people to write about. We look forward to next year’s Human Rights Press Awards.”
A winners list, text of Mr. Ching’s speech, speaker’s profile, and information about the Judging Panels and the Awards can be found at <www.fcchk.org>, <www.amnesty.org.hk>, or <www.hkja.org.hk>.