Human Rights Award 2012
Tribal Union of Journalists (TUJ), Pakistan
Almost every day the valleys and mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s rugged border region are shaken by terrorist attacks, combat missions by the Pakistani army and US drone strikes. The semi-autonomous tribal areas in Pakistan – the »Federally Administered Tribal Areas« (FATA) –constitute a distinct territory in north-western Pakistan between the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and eastern Afghanistan. The Tribal Areas are in Pakistan’s national territory but enjoy special political, legal and administrative status.
Western reporting on the war and terrorism pays little attention to the more than three million people living in the remote Tribal Areas. Several hundred thousand children, women and men were forced to leave their homeland because of the fighting. Their social hardships and parlous economic plight have only got worse. The situation is characterised by rampant poverty, unemployment, political and legal discrimination, deplorable health care, sparse educational opportunities, dysfunctional administration, oppression of women and little prospect of economic development. Militant movements have exploited the weak presence of the Pakistani state in the Tribal Areas, establishing their own domains. In these circumstances, the widely respected International Crisis Group warns, in one of its recent reports, of continuing growth of militant forces in the FATA.
While the few Western reporters who dare to enter the region in pursuit of local colour at least do so under the protection of the Pakistani army, local journalists risk their lives investigating important stories in the disputed territories. And while Western leading articles on strategy in the fight against the Taliban are written at a safe distance, Pashtu-speaking local journalists need to consider before every sentence whether their report will endanger them or their families.
The Award winner
This year the Human Rights Award of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung pays tribute to the particular merits of the Pakistani journalists’ trust the »Tribal Union of Journalists« (TUJ). Located in the Tribal Areas, the TUJ has worked for 20 years to consolidate media freedom and freedom of opinion 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.
The Human Rights Award has been bestowed on the TUJ in recognition of its support for persecuted journalists and media suppression in the Tribal Areas. The TUJ exemplifies the courage of local journalists who, at the risk of their lives, provide the outside world with crucial background information from the »black box« of the Afghan-Pakistani border region.
As a representative of journalists’ interests the Union not only seeks safety improvements for its members but also takes on tasks for which in many other countries the state and employers are responsible. For example, the TUJ takes care of social security for the families of murdered journalists. They do not receive financial help from the Pakistani state nor from the national and international press agencies they are working for.
The Human Rights Award in particular honours the TUJ’s democratic organisational culture. The association is set up in accordance with the basic principles of democratic codetermination. In a region in which people are denied the basic rights contained in the Pakistani Constitution the TUJ is a symbol of an active democratic political culture.
The award ceremony took place on 31 October 2012, 17:30 h, at Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Hiroshimastr. 17, 10785 Berlin. The laudation was held by Johannes Pflug, chairman of the Afghanistan/Pakistan-Taskforce of the SPD parliamentary group.
See the leaflet (German)
On 27 November 2012 the prize money was presented to the TUJ in Islamabad. On this occassion, a penal discussion moderated by Rahimullah Yusufzai on the situation of journalists in FATA took place and was attended by high-ranking Pakistani officials.
See the leaflet
Further Information: Reasons for nominating TUJ FES Press-Release Opening Remarks by Dr. Peter Struck, FES chairperson (German) Laudation by Johannes Pflug, MdB (German) Photos, Audio and Video Photos of the award ceremony Interview with Ramullah Yusufzai (English, 9min47) Interview with Safdar Dawar (German, 11min32) Recording of the discussion during the award ceremony (German/English, 59min42) FES Pakistan Documentary: Theater of Conflict - Reporting from FATA Media Coverage of the event in Berlin CityFM89.com-Radio Interview with Safdar Dawar (English/Pashto) The International News-Article The Express Tribune-Article by Ayesha Hasan The Express Tribune-Comment by Ayesha Hasan The Pakistan Press Foundation-Article DW-Article by Shamil Shams: German | English | Urdu Photos and Media Coverage of the event in Islamabad: The News International-Report Dawn.com-Report FES Publications on the Subject Asian Media Barometer: Pakistan 2009 FESMedia Asia Further Publications Digital Security and Journalists in Pakistan Internews Center for Innovation & Learning, May 2012 Getting Away With Murder - CPJ's 2012 Impunity Index Committee to Protect Journalists, April 2012 The Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity UNESCO/IPDC, March 2012 A Safety Guidebook for Pakistani Journalists Intermedia/Khan, Aurangzaib und Rehmat, Adnan, December 2011 Mainstreaming of FATA into Pakistani Media Legal Framework Intermedia/Alam, Muhammad Aftab und Rehmat, Adnan, Briefing Paper, Nov. 2011 Gunning for Media - Journalists and Media Staff Killed in 2010 International Federation of Journalists, 2011 Links Website of FES Pakistan FES Pakistan on Facebook Asia and the Pacific Department of the FES The Human Rights working line of the FES