Human rights accolade: Tribal Union of Journalists receives German prize

Body president remembers 12 fellow journalists who were killed on duty.

Ayesha Hasan November 02, 2012


While journalists in the tribal areas work amidst constant threats to their lives with little hope of being recognised for their work, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), a German Foundation (FES), awarded the Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ) its highest human rights award on October 31.

The award was presented to TUJ President Safdar Dawar at a ceremony held in Berlin.

“The international community has realised how dangerous it is to work in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas with almost no support from the government,” he said after receiving the award.

Dawar, a native of Miranshah in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), lamented the killings of some of his fellow journalists in the region, saying the tribal areas were “indeed the most dangerous region for journalists to work in”. He received the award and recalled his 12 fellow journalists who were killed on duty.

Having been caught by the militants in the region several times himself, Dawar said “only the luckiest ones escape once caught”.

Talking about the workings of the TUJ, Dawar said the union was 20-year-old and worked to consolidate media freedom and freedom of expression in the region. Founded by a group of local journalists in 1987, it represents around 250 journalists in FATA, working for local, national and international print and electronic media.

FES: Where it came from?

The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) was founded in 1925 as a political legacy of Germany’s first democratically elected president Friedrich Ebert.

The human rights award – presented for the first time in 1994 – dates back to the legacy of Karl and Ida Feist from Hamburg. The couple stipulated in their will that their fortune be administered by the fund, which is to present a human rights award once a year.

According to the donors, the accolade should be awarded to individuals or organisations that rendered outstanding services for human rights in different parts of the world.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2012.

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