Last year, in this same time peri­od, Zehra Doğan received a prize for “courage in jour­nal­ism” in the Unit­ed States. This time, she was reward­ed in Lebanon with the “Excep­tion­al Courage in Jour­nal­ism Award”, giv­en each year by the May Chidi­ac Foun­da­tion (MCF).

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zehra dogan The award was giv­en on Octo­ber 11 2019 at the Sea­side Are­na in Beirut. At the open­ing of the cer­e­mo­ny, the Pres­i­dent of the Foun­da­tion, May Chidi­ac, under­lined the fact that human rights were regress­ing all over the plan­et and that free­dom of the press was under severe attack in Amer­i­ca, in Asia and in Africa. She men­tioned that vio­la­tions to free­dom of expres­sion also exist­ed in Lebanon and that the media are not free to act inde­pen­dent­ly. Not­ing that offences against free­dom of expres­sion and the media were at a record high in Turkey, she added: “Turkey has become a prison for jour­nal­ists. Those who are not in jail can no longer write. And being kept from inform­ing freely is already like being in jail. But some jour­nal­ists resist against these con­di­tions, and Zehra is one of them.”

Zehra Doğan came on stage wear­ing tra­di­tion­al garb. She spoke in Kurdish.

I thank you for this prize.

While I was in jail with a friend, who had been incar­cer­at­ed for 22 years and who had vis­it­ed Beirut twen­ty-five years ago pri­or to her incar­cer­a­tion, we used to says “one day, we will watch the sun­set in Beirut while lis­ten­ing to Feyruz.” I came out of jail, my friend is still inside.

Turkey is a prison. The entire coun­try is a prison. Hun­dreds of jour­nal­ists, artists, polit­i­cal fig­ures, thou­sands of cham­pi­ons of human rights, are in jail. Turkey is one of the worst coun­tries in mat­ters of free­dom of the press. No lat­er than today, jour­nal­ist friends of ours are being held in cus­tody. Why? For hav­ing pub­lished infor­ma­tion on the assault against Rojava.

There is war in Roja­va. In Roja­va, peo­ple are being mas­sa­cred. Chil­dren are being bombed, and killed. Turkey is attack­ing Rojava.

Today, I saw in the streets that peo­ple in Beirut were demon­strat­ing their sup­port for Roja­va. There were also state­ments from politi­cians con­demn­ing the attack against Roja­va. This pleased the Kurds very much. As Kur­dish peo­ple, we have been under attack for years. But remem­ber also that we have been resist­ing against this for years. We resist­ed yes­ter­day, we go on resist­ing today.

Receiv­ing a prize at such a time made me think deeply. This prize does not belong to me. I can­not receive it in my name. I’m accept­ing this prize in the name of the Peo­ples of Roja­va and I ded­i­cate it to my jour­nal­ist col­leagues who are search­ing for real infor­ma­tion in Roja­va at this very moment.”

At this awards cer­e­mo­ny, were also hon­ored with prizes in var­i­ous fields: Paul Con­roy, inde­pen­dent pho­tog­ra­ph­er and war cor­re­spon­dent, Zeina Yazi­gi, jour­nal­ist, Georges Leclère, Pres­i­dent of NATAS Emmy Acad­e­my ve LGMA, and David Ignatius, columnist.

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