Quote for the Week: “Despite the killings and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper’s independent policy” – The Nobel Peace Prize Committee

Week-ending 8 October 2021

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace. Ms Ressa and Mr Muratov are receiving the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. At the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.

Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her native country, the Philippines. In 2012, she co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism, which she still heads. As a journalist and the Rappler’s CEO, Ressa has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression. Rappler has focused critical attention on the Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign. The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war waged against the country’s own population. Ms Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.

Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions. In 1993, he was one of the founders of the independent newspaper Novaja Gazeta. Since 1995 he has been the newspaper’s editor-in-chief for a total of 24 years. Novaja Gazeta is the most independent newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamentally critical attitude towards power. The newspaper’s fact-based journalism and professional integrity have made it an important source of information on censurable aspects of Russian society rarely mentioned by other media. Since its start-up in 1993, Novaja Gazeta has published critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and ”troll factories” to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia.

Novaja Gazeta’s opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence and murder. Since the newspaper’s start, six of its journalists have been killed, including Anna Politkovskaja who wrote revealing articles on the war in Chechnya. Despite the killings and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper’s independent policy. He has consistently defended the right of journalists to write anything they want about whatever they want, as long as they comply with the professional and ethical standards of journalism.

Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda. The Norwegian Nobel Committee is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure an informed public. These rights are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict. The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is intended to underscore the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights.

Without freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmament and a better world order to succeed in our time. This year’s award of the Nobel Peace Prize is therefore firmly anchored in the provisions of Alfred Nobel’s will.”

-‘Announcement,’ The Nobel Peace Prize, 8 October 2021

Other sources:

The Guardian, 8 October 2021: Campaigning journalists from the Philippines and Russia have won the 2021 Nobel peace prize as the Norwegian committee recognised the vital importance of an independent media to democracy and warned it was increasingly under assault.

RFE/RL: Russia’s Novaya gazeta is best known for its investigative reports on corruption and rights abuses. In a country ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous places for journalists, its reporting has earned international accolades but has also put its reporters in considerable danger. Six of the publication’s journalists and contributors have been killed since 2000 and others attacked.

RFE/RL, 8 October 2021: The Nobel Committee described it as the “most independent newspaper in Russia today,” and underlined Muratov’s work to “safeguard media freedom” in his country.

The Moscow Times, 8 October 2021: “Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said during the presentation on Friday.

RSF, 8 October 2021: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is delighted that the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to two prominent and courageous journalists. This is a tribute to all those who work tirelessly for freely and independently reported news and information, RSF says.

Amnesty International, 8 October 2021: Responding to journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov winning the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia respectively, Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, said:  “Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov’s Nobel Peace Prize win is a victory not only for independent, critical journalism in The Philippines and Russia, but for the fight for justice, accountability and freedom of expression all over the world. “For more than three decades, Maria Ressa has worked tirelessly as a journalist in the Philippines, carrying out vital investigative reporting on corruption, abuses of power, and human rights violations in President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly so-called war on drugs. As the co-founder of Rappler, a highly lauded and uncompromising online news site, she’s opened the world’s eyes to the brutality and pervasive impunity in the Philippines. Put simply, she is a global icon for press freedom. Dmitry Muratov has been a rock for free media in Russia, his newspaper producing hard-hitting, fearless journalism in the face of mortal danger in the country’s increasingly perilous press environment. He is one of the few who continue to hold power to account. We salute the indefatigable professionalism and courage not only of Mr Muratov, but of all those Russian journalists who have suffered while carrying out their professional duties.  The Russian and Philippines authorities must take note of Dmitry Muratov’s and Maria Ressa’s Nobel Peace Prize win and end their relentless attack on press freedom.”

Human Rights Watch, 8 October 2021: The Norwegian Nobel committee’s decision to award its Peace Prize to the journalists Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov of Russia is a shot in the arm for the countless journalists who’ve been fired at, sued, attacked and savagely trolled in their line of work around the world. But more than that, it’s recognition of the critical role journalism plays in upholding human rights and democracy at a time when autocratic governments are vigorously undermining them. Social media companies have also been playing a dangerous role.

Civil Rights Defenders, 8 October 2021: This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Maria Ressa and Dimitry Muratov for their work in protecting freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. Civil Rights Defenders welcomes the Norwegian Nobel Prize Committee’s decision as it recognises those who fight for freedom of expression.

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