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IWMF Honours Chiranuch Premchaiporn

Adela Navarro Bello, Parisa Hafezi, Chiranuch Premchaiporn, and Kate Adie after collecting their awards in Los Angeles last night

 

CHIANGRAI TIMES – Chiranuch Premchaiporn, director of Prachatai online newspaper in Thailand, is facing between 20 and 70 years in prison, depending on reports, over failing to delete critical remarks about the Thai monarchy on the site.

Premchaiporn was charged in March 2009 over 10 comments posted on the site criticising the monarchy, a criminal offence in Thailand. She is currently out on bail after her trial was delayed until February 2012.

“The media in Thailand is afraid to cover issues relating to the royal family,” Premchaiporn told the IWMF. “Once it was announced that I received the Courage in Journalism Award they covered my case and interviewed me. But there is fear.”

Navarro works for Zeta in Tijuana, Mexico where, along with many other parts of the country, the drug trade has empowered cartels willing to intimidate and murder journalists who investigate their operations.

The co-founder of Zeta, Hector Felix Miranda, was murdered in 1988 and co-editor Francisco Ortiz Franco was killed in 2004. Navarro, who has reported on their murders and the investigations that followed, has received death threats during her time at the magazine.

She told the IWMF after winning this year’s award that she “felt that Zeta isn’t alone. We have allies”.

“This is an important message to the people of Mexico.”

Hafezi, Reuters bureau chief in Iran, has been threatened and intimidated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards in the wake of the country’s disputed 2009 election, according to the IWMF.

“Some reporters refused to use the Tehran dateline,” she told the foundation, “but we weren’t afraid to show we were there.

“We didn’t move out; we were the first on the streets. We had to be strong and take the risks to report the stories.”

Hafezi had her press accreditation revoked last year for six weeks in the wake of violent protests over the election. She was reportedly interrogated by authorities and put under surveillance.

Mexico, Thailand, and Iran were ranked 136th, 153rd, and 175th respectively out of 178 countires in last year’s Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. Both Mexico and Thailand were ranked in the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 10 deadliest countries last year.

“These courageous women have endured terrible hardships without questioning their own safety,” said Barbara Cochran, co-chair of the IWMF board.

“They face danger and violence to report the day’s most important stories, despite being targeted by authorities. We are honoured to tell the world their stories.”

A lifetime achievement award was given to veteran BBC correspondent Kate Adie, who has been reporting from warzones for the past 40 years.

Adie said she was “thrilled” to receive the award.

“I’m terribly grateful. As someone who started out in journalism because I saw it as something fascinating and exciting, I didn’t expect awards for it. I can’t believe people actually pay you to do the work.”

The awards were presented last night at the Los Angeles Courage in Journalism Awards dinner at he Beverly Hills Hotel, with US secretary of state Hilary Clinton congratulating the winners via a pre-recorded message.

Dow Wong

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