Global Media Forum and Reporters Without Borders are pleased to announce that Lukpan Akhmedyarov is the 2012 winner of the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism.
Akhmedyarov is a reporter for the weekly Uralskaya Nedelya in Kazakhstan. He will be awarded the prize at a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on October 12, 2012.
Lukpan Akhmedyarov, 36, is well known for his investigative coverage of corruption and human rights abuses as well as his criticism of the current regime. He has been the target of threats and harassment by the police.
On April 19, 2012, Akhmedyarov was the victim of a murder attempt outside his apartment building in the city of Uralsk. Two masked individuals attacked him, hitting him on the back of the head, stabbing him multiple times and shooting him with an air-pistol. As a result, Akhmedyarov was hospitalized for a month and treated for a head injury, eight stab wounds to the lung, kidneys, and stomach, and gun pellet injuries.
Camille Mackler, Project Director for the Peter Mackler Award, said that “Mr. Akhmedyarov has shown enormous courage in reporting on corruption in an authoritarian regime. That he continues to do so, after almost paying with his life for his commitment to journalistic integrity, makes us proud to name him this year’s winner of the Peter Mackler Award.”
“Through Lukpan Akhmedyarov, we pay homage to the courage of all who continue to work independently to cover the news in Kazakhstan. Working as an independent news source in this country has never been easy. Over the past twelve month, it has become more dangerous than ever. Lukpan’s courage and dedication command respect” said Christophe Deloire, Reporters Without Borders Director.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Kazakhstan 154th out of 179 countries in their 2011-2012 Press Freedom Index. The autocratic government of President Nursultan Nazarbayev has responded brutally to an unprecedented wave of social unrest and security threats in recent months. Pressure on independent news organizations has been growing since the bloody repression of a riot by workers in December 2011 in the Western town of Janaozen, with a series of detentions, summons by the security services, intimidatory measures and interruptions in the flow of information.
The Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism was founded in June, 2008 to honor the memory of Peter Mackler, a Brooklyn-born thirty-five year veteran journalist who championed ethical journalism and freedom of expression. Mackler helped transform the news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) into the international competitor that it is today. Mackler also founded the Global Media Forum, which has helped to train journalists and non-profit organizations to use the media as a tool for social change, and Project Plato, which teaches journalism as a life skill to disadvantaged teenagers.
The Peter Mackler award rewards journalists who fight courageously and ethically to report the news in countries where freedom of the press is either not guaranteed or not recognized. The Award is administered jointly by Global Media Forum and Reporters Without Borders. Details regarding the award ceremony, to be held October 12, 2012, will be made available August 22nd, 2012.
(Picture: Uralskaya Nedelya)