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Freedom of Expression and Nobel Peace Prize-2021

Maria Ressa (of Philippines) and Dimitry Muratov (of Russia)

Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her nation country, the Philippines.

By Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh

    The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa (of Philippines) and Dimitry Muratov (of Russia) for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace. The pair is receiving the peace prize, whose work has angered the rulers of Philippines and Russia, and commended for’ ’their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. At the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this deal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions. Announcing the winners in Oslo on Friday the 8th October 2021, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Anderson, said: free, Independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda.

 Maria Ressa uses freedom of expression to expose abuse of power, use of violence and growing authoritarianism in her nation country, the Philippines.  In 2012, she co-founded Rappler, a digital media company for investigative journalism, which she still heads. As journalist and the Rappler’s CEO, Ressa has shown herself to be a fearless defender of freedom of expression. Rappler has focused critical attention on the Duterte regimes controversial murderous antidrug campaign. The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war against the country’s own population. Ms Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulating public discourses. Ms Ressa is the first winner from the Philippines of a Nobel Prize in any field. Rappler has grown prominent through its investigative reporting including into large scale killing during a police campaign against drug. In August this year, a court in the Philippines dismissed libel case against Ms Ressa—one of several lawsuits filed against the journalist—who says, she has been targeted because of her news site’s critical report regarding President Rodrigo Duterte. The plight of Ms Ressa, who was one of the several journalists  named ‘’Time Magazine person of the year in2018’’, for fighting media intimidation , has raised international concern about the harassment of media organizations in the Philippines, a country once seen as a standard –bearer for press freedom in Asia. Reacting to the announcement, Ms Ressa told Norway’s TV2 channel: The government (of the Philippines) obviously will not be happy. Iam a little shocked. It’s really emotional she added. But I am happy on behalf of my team and would like to thank the Nobel Committee for recognizing what we are going through.

  Dmitry Andreyevich Muratov has for decades defended freedom of speech in Russia under increasingly challenging conditions. In1993, he was one of the founders of the independent newspaper Novaja Gazeta. Since 1995, he has been the newspaper’s editor-in-chief for a total of 24 years. Novaja Gazeta is the most independent newspaper in Russia today, with a fundamentally critical attitude towards power. The newspaper’s fact-based journalism and professional integrity have made it an important source of information on censurable aspects of Russian society rarely mentioned by other media. Since it start-up in 1993, Navoja Gazeta has published critical articles on subjects ranging from corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and troll factories; to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside  Russia. Novoja Gazeta’s opponents have responded with harassment, threats, violence and murder. Since the newspaper start, six of its journalist Igor Domnikov, Yuri Shchekchikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, Stas Markelo, Anastasia Barburva and Natasha Estemirova has been killed. These are the people who have today won the Nobel peace Prize, said by Muratov, reciting the names of the slain reporters and activists, whose portraits hang in the newspaper’s Moscow, headquarter. Mr Muratov told journalism website Podyom: we will leverage this prize in the interest of Russian journalism, which (the authorities) are now trying to repress. Russian journalists have faced an increasingly difficult environment in recent years with many being forced to register as agent of the state. We will try to help people who have been recognized as agents, who are now being treated like dirt and being exiled from the country. Anna Politkovskaya was killed for writing an article on the war in Chechnya. Despite the killing and threats, editor-in-chief Muratov has refused to abandon the newspaper’s independent policy. He has consistently defended the right of journalists to write anything they want about whatever they want, as long as they comply with the professional and ethical standard of journalism. 

     Free independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against the abuse of power, lies and war propaganda. The Norwegian Nobel committee is convinced that freedom of expression and freedom of information help to ensure and informed public. These rights are crucial prerequisites for democracy and protect against war and conflict. The award of Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa and Dimitry Muratov is intended to underscore the importance of protecting and defending these fundamental rights. Awarding Nobel peace Prize to Mr Muratov is testimony to the honest service to one’s country that has been shown and achieved through the news paper’s commitment to reportage, its support of human rights, the fight against corruption and the challenges of amorality. It must not be forgotten that a huge price has been paid for these principles and this award – tragically, it has been paid for in lost journalists lives. Media rights group Reporters without Border celebrated Friday’s announcement, expressing joy and urgency. Joy because this is an extraordinary tribute to journalism and excellent tribute to all journalists who take risks everywhere around the world to defend the right to information. And also urgency, because it will be a decisive decade for journalism. Journalism is in danger, journalism is weakened, and journalism is threatened. Democracy is weakened by disinformation due to rumors and hate speech. Without the freedom of expression and freedom of the press, it will be difficult to successfully promote fraternity between nations, disarmment and a better world order to succeed in our time. This year’s award of Nobel Peace Prize is therefore firmly anchored in the provisions of Alfred Nobel Will.

(Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh is Asst. Prof. at JCRE Global College, Babupara, Imphal. He can be reached at [email protected])

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