Thursday, October 24, 2013

Faisal Salih To Receive Peter Mackler Award Today

Faisal Salih speaking at Columbia University, New York


Faisal Mohammed Salih, 53, a well-known Sudanese journalist will receive the Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism this evening at the National Press Club in Washington DC. He will be the fifth recipient of the award given in memory of Peter Mackler who died in 2008 after a long and distinguished career with the French news agency AFP. The award is given by the Mackler family.


 Salih and other journalists in Sudan have had to work under dangerous conditions as they try to expose the corruption and violence of a regime whose head, President Omar Al-Bashir has been convicted of war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Sudan is ranked 170th of 179 countries by the Paris-based media watchdog Reporters without Borders. [Please see these links for this blog’s coverage of Sudan and Salih: one, two, three, four]

Speaking about working as a journalist in Sudan, Salih said, “Of course, it’s not safe to speak in Sudan. We are trying to speak out and we are paying the price for it.”

 On Wednesday, Salih spoke at Columbia University’s School of Journalism in New York.

Independent journalism has been a victim of the Al-Bashir’s secret police, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). But journalists have not been the only target of the NISS. Other human rights activists too have had the unwelcome attention of the NISS on them.

One of them was them is Safia Ishag, who as a 25-year-old student at Khartoum University in 2009 was with a group of protestors fighting for democracy in Sudan. In early 2011 she was kidnapped by the NISS, tortured and gang raped. Ishag is perhaps the only rape survivor in Sudan to speak out about what she had suffered. After Ishag went public about her ordeal, a few journalists denounced the NISS for its actions. One of them was Salih.

Accused by NISS of defaming it, Salih had to face relentless harassment at its hands. “All I wrote is that I called for an independent investigation of that case,” Salih said.

Salih is also a firm believer in mentoring student journalists and is the director of Teeba Press that teaches the subject.

On learning that he would receive the Peter Mackler Award, Salih wrote that “it is an honor for me to receive this award which carries the name of a courageous man and renowned journalist.”

Announcing the award on August 22, Camille Mackler, project director for the Peter Mackler Award said, “Our goal for the last five years, as we have built this award program, has always been to shine a light on the courage and commitment to human rights and dignity that Mr. Salih exhibits every day through his work.”


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