The AEJ took part in celebrations, appeals and public events for World Press Freedom Day 2015 in Armenia, Belgium and Ireland:
Armenia: AEJ-Armenia/Investigative Journalists NGO and the Committee to Protect Free Speech published their annual report and analysis of violent attacks on the press, official harassment against journalists and violations of free speech; Liana Sayadyan of AEJ Armenia launched an initiative to regulate the growth of ‘sham journalism’, false news and propaganda in the guise of online media.
Brussels: ‘Difference Day’ on 3 May marks World Press Freedom Day: the Brussels Platform for Journalism organised the event ‘The Difference Day’ in one of Brussels’ culture ‘temples’ the BOZAR. The Platform is a joint academic initiative under the umbrella of the Brussels University Alliance.
Together with BOZAR, the Platform partnered with journalistic, media and academic organisations including IFJ/EFJ to organise the European Gala Night for Freedom of Expression. The Difference Day Honorary Title for Freedom of Expression, granted by Brussels University Alliance, was awarded to Raif Badawi, Saudi Arabia. Badawi is a Saudi Arabian writer, free speech activist and founder of Free Saudi Liberals, who has been jailed and sentenced to 1000 lashes for ‘insulting Islam’.
In cooperation with EurActiv and Evens Foundation, a debate about ‘Europe in the Press’ was organised, with Christophe Leclercq (EurActiv founder) and Matthew Kaminski (Executive editor of the weekly Politico, a newcomer on the European media stage).
Ireland: World Press Freedom Day in Ireland: AEJ meeting with Minister of Communications Alex White
On 8 May 2015, to mark World Press Freedom Day, the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources, Alex White was a guest of the Irish Section of the AEJ.
In a wide-ranging speech, he touched on media mergers, free to air broadcasting, Freedom of Information legislation and Public Service Broadcasting.
He also spoke about the importance of World Press Freedom Day, celebrating as it does the fundamentals of press freedom and independence, as well as recalling those who died in the exercise of their profession.
He spoke in particular of the Charlie Hebdo attack in January, noting that just prior to that the IFJ had published a report outlining the number of journalistic deaths in 2014(118) and remarking that this report provoked little comment in Europe, but that Charlie Hebdo had changed all that..
It was, he said, akin to the killing of Veronica Guerin in Dublin in 1996, which became a touchstone in Ireland – Veronica Guerin was a Crime Correspondent with the SundayIndependent, who was gunned down by a drugs gang in June 1996, having survived two previous attempts on her life. Her death ultimately led to the establishment of the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Minister White said the Charlie Hebdo killings reminded us of the values of a Free Press, as did the killing of Veronica Guerin , and he urged the AEJ to keep highlighting this.
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