The mayor presented the medals at an evening event entitled Les Combats du Journalisme (Journalism’s Front Lines) that RSF organized at the Théâtre du Rond-Point in Paris to pay tribute to “information heroes.”
“We welcome the Paris city hall’s official commitment to these information heroes,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “The medals are much more than just symbols. They really help these men and women, who often risk their lives or their freedom to inform their fellow citizens and who are an example for fellow journalists worldwide.”
The medals were awarded to:
- Can Dündar, the editor of the secular and progressive Turkish daily Cumhuriyet. He is also a documentary filmmaker and the author of bestselling books. Dündar and his Ankara bureau chief, Erdem Gül, are charged with spying and divulging state secrets because they published information about arms deliveries by the Turkish intelligence services to Islamists in Syria. Thanks to a major international campaign, he was released in late February but he is now being tried.
- Antoine Kaburahe, the editor of the privately-owned weekly Iwacu, the last private media outlet to operate in Burundi after radio stations were closed down on President Pierre Nkurunziza’s orders. He fled to Belgium, where he now lives, because of concern for his safety since the May 2015 coup attempt, when the authorities refused to distinguish between coup supporters and journalists who continued to cover political developments.
- Narges Mohammadi, an Iranian journalist who worked closely with 2003 Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi and acted as spokesperson of the Centre for Human Rights Defenders. Iran is the world’s biggest prison for women journalists and Mohammadi is serving a six-year sentence. Her health is in danger because she is being denied the medical care she needs. In October 2015, she was taken to a Tehran hospital, where she was handcuffed to her bed. She was sent back to prison ten days later against the advice of her doctors.
- Lotfullah Najafizadeh, the head of Kabul-based Tolo TV, which was awarded the RSF Press Freedom Prize in 2005 and was the target of a Taliban suicide attack in January 2016, a few months after the Taliban declared it to be a “military target.” With 100 employees, Tolo TV is one of the few reliable sources of news and information in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan, Turkey, Burundi and Iran are ranked 120th, 151st, 156th and 169th respectively in RSF’s 2016 World Press Freedom Index.