Oxfam Novib/PEN Award 2013
‘I would be ashamed if I were to keep silence for a day about what’s happening in Syria.’ That is what Syrian writer Samar Yazbek said when presented the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award 2013 on January 17. The award is a distinction for writers and journalists committed to free speech despite the danger to their own lives.
|Samar Yazbek receiving the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award 2013.|
Photo:H.P.Alting von Geusau/Oxfam Novib
Yazbek was the only one of five laureates able to be present to receive personally the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award in The Hague. Her book, Women in the Crossfire, is a probing report of the first five months of the Syrian revolution, for which she had to flee the country. She has since been living in France. Yazbek dedicated the award to the Syrian people and the revolution. ‘I’ve seen so much heroism in Syria that I’d be ashamed if I were to keep silent for a day about what’s happening in Syria’, explaining her motivation for continuing to write.
The other award winners were Déo Namujimbo (Democratic Republic Congo), Enoh Meyomesse (Cameroon), Nargess Mohammadi (Iran) and Büsra Ersanli (Turkey). The first one now lives in exile in France, like Yazbek. Meyomesse and Mohammadi are in prison in their own countries. And Ersanli had been released on bail during the presentation.
It is these kinds of courageous and creative people who dare to raise their voices against injustice and oppression, whom the Oxfam Novib/PEN Award wants to honour. ‘This is the twelfth year in which we’re presenting this award’, remembered Tom van der Lee, Director Campaigns of Oxfam Novib. ‘And it makes me sad to have to say so, but it is now more needed than ever.’
141 journalists killed
Van der Lee points at figures showing that, compared to 2011, the number of journalists who died in 2012 in connection with their work, rose by 33 percent. According to the Swiss Press Emblem Campaign, committed to the protection of journalists, in 2012 141 journalists are said to have died as the result of assassination, bombs and stray bullets or shrapnel. According to Van der Lee, Syria, Somalia and Pakistan are the three most lethal countries in the world. ‘In each of these countries at least one journalist is murdered every month. Unfortunately these three countries also take the lead in the number of murdered or kidnapped aid workers.’
|Bron||Oxfam Novib, February 22, 2013|
|Auteur||Fred Geelen, editor Oxfam Novib|