World Press Freedom Day
On May 3rd, World Press Freedom Day, together with other organisations in the Press Freedom committee, we organised another Festival of the Free Word – this time in the Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision in Hilversum. With the Dutch presentation of the Freedom of the Press report, we drew attention to the sorry state of press freedom. This earned ample attention from the media, from the Parool and BNR to the television programme Koffietijd. We looked at the decline of press freedom all over the world, we discussed the (un) safety of Dutch journalists. During the event we exhibited photos of the journalist Jeroen Oerlemans, who was shot dead in 2016.
Free Press Live 2017
The main guest at Free Press Live 2017 on November 2nd, was Diane Foley, mother of the American journalist James Foley who was assassinated by ISIS in 2014. Her foundation is committed to the protection of freelance war correspondents. In her impressive speech she condemned the widespread impunity for crimes against journalists, for example, the murder of her son. No less impressive was the video in which the CEO of Rappler, Maria Ressa, explained how difficult and risky the work of journalists in the Philippines has become. Free Press Unlimited director Leon Willems announced that we will make € 25,000 available to support endangered journalists in the Phillipines.
During the event, only women came on stage when the Free Press Awards were presented. Coincidence? Not according to Mwape Kumwenda, who received the prize for the most courageous and most tenacious journalist, with loud applause from the 250 journalists and policymakers present. ‘I think women, more so than men, are able and have the strength to change our society.’ The other prize winners are certainly strong. The Ukrainian investigative journalist Marina Ansiforova is only 22 years old, but she exposed the corruption of 50 judges, some of whom were relieved of their duties – and thus saved the process of judicial reform in her country. She won the Newcomer of the Year-Hans Verploeg Award. With the support of the Postcode Lottery Fund for Journalists, two Dutch journalists, Maartje Wegdam and Ariadne Asimakopoulos, made an impressive documentary about a Ugandan child soldier. Together they received the Best Report Award.
Publeaks, the stories
On 10 March, Marietje Schaake, MEP for D66, received the first copy of our collection ‘Publeaks, the stories’. Here, readers find the most appealing stories that came about thanks to the whistle-blower’s platform Publeaks. From the broadcast about the Lidl-extortionist by EenVandaag to the article in NRC about the student gun club Colonel Colt: the journalists were put on the right track to expose them through Publeaks. In its three-year history, hundreds of issues have come to light thanks to Publeaks.
World Radio Day
Of course, Free Press Unlimited celebrated World Radio Day in 2017. In the Netherlands we organised a mini-campaign to gain financial support for our radio partners. Radio connects people, certainly in countries where people are prevented from going to school by war and poverty and are therefore illiterate. As Leon Willems said in a radio-interview with the UN mission in South Sudan: ‘Radio plays an important role in rebuilding peace. People can tell their story and hear the opinions of others – in a peaceful manner. That is why radio is so extremely important.’ Whether it is through a radio soap for young people or a factual report. In South Sudan Free Press Unlimited supports Radio Tamazuj, that builds bridges, connects people and encourages them to talk instead of fight with each other.
International Women’s Day
On March 8th, International Women’s Day, Free Press Unlimited organised the Men4Women March in Southeast Asia. Hundreds of male employees of our media partners in Nepal, Indonesia and Bangladesh took to the streets to express their support for the fight for equal rights. After this success, we will also organise the march in other countries next year.