The Free Press Awards recognize journalists and media professionals who have a strong commitment with press freedom and independent information. During a festive ceremony on 2 November 2021 in the Hague, the winners of the Newcomer of the Year and Most Resilient Journalist Award were announced.
We have received many nominations of brave and talented journalists from all over the world. We see that the pressure on independent media and journalists is incredible high, and therefore we are even more impressed by the resilience and passion journalists worldwide show in their profession. With pride we present to you the winners of this year’s Free Press Awards.
MOST RESILIENT JOURNALIST: ROZINA ISLAM
The jury unanimously decided to grant this year’s Most Resilient Journalist Award to Rozina Islam from Bangladesh. As an investigative journalist working for the largest daily newspaper in Bangladesh, 'The daily Prothom-Alo', she has uncovered wrongdoings in her country’s health spending and is now facing trial and tribulation in her country.
Rozina Islam was arrested in May 2021 on allegations of stealing official documents and espionage after reporting on alleged corruption and mismanagement in the government's response to the pandemic. Though she was released on bail, her passport and press card are ceased by police, and if convicted she could face up to 14 years in prison.
The jury says: “We express solidarity with the fight of journalists to uncover malpractices during this problematic time of the pandemic and calls on the government of Bangladesh to stop its harassment of Rozina Islam.”
Because of her great courage and perseverance, the jury decided to award Rozina Islam the Free Press Award for Most Resilient Journalist, with the corresponding cash prize of 7,500 euros.
The other nominees were Omar Radi from Morocco and Raman Vasiukovich from Belarus. Read more about them here.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: BHAT BURHAN
Bhat Burhan is a 22-year-old freelance journalist, video producer, camera operator and a photojournalist based in New Delhi, India. His recent documentaries (with his team of international producers and local journalists) focused on the crisis of transgender community in Kashmir India, the nationwide farmers protests in Punjab India, the crematorium workers who cremated around a hundred Covid-19 victims in New Delhi India, and the lack of Covid-19 vaccination to refugees in New Delhi India.
The jury says:
“His stories are risky and have landed him in police stations in 2018 and 2020 with his colleagues. The jury was impressed by his multi-media approach. He not only stands out with his documentaries but also writes in a comprehensive way. The fact that he is so young and is already doing so much, is something to praise. The jury wishes Bhat and his team all the best for the near future and hope that the award will give them the recognition they deserve.”
The jury is therefore pleased to award Bhat Burhan the Newcomer of the Year – Hans Verploeg Award and the scholarship of 1,500 euros.
The other nominees were Aye Min Thant from Myanmar and Israel Graca Campos from Angola. Read more about them here.