German foundation gives its highest award to Pakistani Tribal Union of Journalists

Berlin ( November 2, 2012) The German Foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftungor FES gives its highest human rights award to the tribal union of journalist or TUJ, FATA. This award is recognition of the work done by the journalists in FATA. TUJ has worked for 20 years to consolidate media freedom and freedom of expression in the region. It represents around 250 journalists in the FATA, working for local, national and international print and electronic media. It was founded in 1987 by a group of local journalists.

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The award ceremony started with the public panel discussion on the topic of “reporters within borders: Pakistani journalists for truth in conflict”. The speakers were renowned Pakistani journalist RahimullahYousafzai, andthe investigative journalists Ulrich Tilgner. Ulrich covered the Gulf war 1 and Gulf war 2. These journalists talked about the difficulties faced by the local reporters on the ground. Ulrich said, ‘German TV channels are not interested in sending its reporters to Afghanistan or Pakistan to do reports. What they do is, work with the local journalists. ”Yousafzaisaid, the work done by the local reporters is neither recognized not well paid. ‘The local reporters on the ground in FATA risk their lives and get the report for the foreign journalists’ working from their comfortable offices in London, New York or Paris. ‘ He further said the journalists sitting abroad have very pointed questions that at times risks the lives of the local reporters.

After the podium discussion, a short documentary ‘Theater of conflict: reporting from FATA was shown. The documentary highlighted the problems faced by the families of the journalists who were killed in the line of duty. There were interviews of the killed journalists families and colleagues.  The documentary also highlighted and explained the FCR or Frontier Crimes Regulations to the German audience.

The laudatory speech was given by Johannes Pflug, member of the German parliament, deputy chair of the task force Afghanistan-Pakistan of the SPD parliamentary group. He applauded the efforts of TUJ, ‘I appreciate the efforts of the tribal journalists who live in constant fear and many of them had to leave their homes in FATA due to threats but they are brave and still continue to work about FATA.’ He congratulated SafdarDawar for receiving the award.  Johannes Pflug said, ‘Safdar and his colleagues face many problems due to the FCR that restricts the rights to freedom of expressions and abuse human rights in FATA. It makes FATA the black box of information in the world. There is not a single local newspapers or TV channel in FATA because the FCR restrict the locals to have it. ‘

The President of the FES, Peter Struck, presented the award to the President of TUJ SafdarDawar. SafdarDawar received the award and remembered the 12 journalists colleagues they have lost their lives the line of duty. He pointed out that no political reforms are possible without the media reforms in FATA.  “The lack of a strong Press in FATA leads to the lack of communication, misunderstanding and the wild spread of rumors. For the reconstruction of the social fabric of the otherwise egalitarian society in the tribal areas, the development of media is very important.” He thanked the organization like internews, intermedia, FES, Mediothek, RFL who gives the tribal journalists regular trainings.

TUJ has lost 12 journalists until today. The last tribal journalist assassinated was Mukharram Khan Atif. He was killed in a mosque in January this year. The journalists killed so far don’t get any compensation from the organisations they work for.

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. Karl and Ida Feist actively supported the labour movement for many years. Their own bitter experiences with war and destruction led them to advocate peace and non-violence.According to the donators, the Human Rights Award should be awarded to individuals or organisations that rendered outstanding services for human rights in the different parts of the world.

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