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Trevor Ncube receives IPA press freedom prize; Hrant Dink, Anna Politkovskaya posthumously awarded special prize

(IPA/IFEX) - The following is an abridged version of a 15 June 2007 IPA press release:

2007 IPA Freedom Prize Winner Trevor Ncube challenges African governments on Freedom to Publish
Hrant Dink's widow receives a special award in the name of her late husband. Anna Politkovskaya also rewarded

Geneva, Cape Town, 15 June 2007 - Publisher Trevor Ncube of Zimbabwe today received the 2007 IPA Freedom Prize for his exemplary courage in upholding freedom of expression. The murdered authors and journalists Hrant Dink of Turkey and Anna Politkovskaya of Russia also received a special prize. Rahil Dink, Hrant Dink's widow, spoke in Cape Town in memory of her late husband at the Special Award ceremony and dinner marking the opening of the Cape Town Book Fair. During the opening ceremony of the 2nd Cape Town Book Fair, Zimbabwean publisher Trevor Ncube received the 2007 IPA Freedom Prize in recognition of his exemplary courage in upholding freedom of expression and freedom to publish in his country and internationally.

The Executive Committee of the International Publishers Association (IPA) selected Trevor Ncube as prize winner from among many highly commendable candidates, nominated by IPA members, individual publishers and human rights organisations. Ana Maria Cabanellas, president of IPA, declared: "Trevor Ncube's work as a publisher and his wholehearted support of freedom of expression have often brought him into conflict with Zimbabwean authorities and endangered his personal safety. Despite repeated threats of violence and attempts to strip him of his Zimbabwean citizenship, Trevor Ncube's newspapers have persistently continued to expose corruption and human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, thus encouraging healthy dissent and criticism both in the public and private sectors. We award this prize to Trevor Ncube in deep respect for his courage as a publisher and as a salute to the passion, the integrity, and the steadfastness that he so marvellously demonstrates."

The full remarks of Ana Maria Cabanellas can be found at: http://www.internationalpublishers.org

Upon receiving the Prize, Trevor Ncube said: "For Africa to claim its rightful place in the community of nations African politicians need to begin to understand that freedom of expression and the freedom to publish are twin partners and not enemies in the task of creating democratic societies. Vibrant newspapers and a book reading culture free from political control are a vital ingredient to creating a market place of ideas to propel Africa's growth and development. Societies which live in perpetual fear of their politicians can never be creative and robust nations, particularly in the knowledge-based times we live in. Africa desperately needs to let loose the creative energies of her people by allowing them to think and express themselves freely. Indeed, only by setting her people free does Africa stand a chance of catching up with the rest of the world."

Trevor Ncube's full remarks can be found at: http://www.internationalpublishers.org

On the same occasion, IPA awarded the "2007 IPA Freedom Prize - Special Award" to Hrant Dink and Anna Politkovskaya.

Anna Politkovskaya was the special correspondent for the Russian newspaper, "Novaya Gazeta", who documented the horrific crimes committed in the war in Chechnya. She was also an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and of the Kremlin's role in Chechnya. She was shot and killed in her apartment building in Moscow on 7 October 2006, the apparent victim of a contract killing. She was 48.

Hrant Dink, a Turk of Armenian descent, was the editor-in-chief and founder of the Armenian-Turkish weekly newspaper "Agos", which sought to provide a voice for the Armenian community and create a dialogue between Turks and Armenians. In October 2006, he was convicted and given a six-month suspended sentence for the crime of "insulting Turkishness" under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. On 19 January 2007, he was shot dead on the street in front of his Istanbul office at the age of 52. Rahil Dink, Hrant Dink's widow, travelled to Cape Town from Istanbul to receive the posthumous prize in the name of her late husband, a man with whom IPA had been working closely since 2003.

Rahil Dink's full remarks can be found at: http://www.internationalpublishers.org

Bjørn Smith-Simonsen, chair of IPA's Freedom to Publish Committee, declared: "The murders of Dink and Politkovskaya were vile. In giving them the "2007 IPA Freedom Prize - Special Award", we rise to celebrate their courage, their humanity, and their witness. We rise to celebrate the free word in the face of oppressive regimes. We remind the Turkish authorities that Article 301 TPC needs to be abolished. We also hope that this special award will remind the Russian and Turkish authorities that the world's public still waits that full light is shed on these two cases and their underlying causes. We regret the lack of progress in the investigation into Politkovskaya's murder, and urge the Russian authorities to fulfil their duty.

"The trial of Hrant Dink's alleged killers will be starting on 2 July 2007 in Istanbul. We will monitor this trial. Those who instigated this murder should be identified and punished. Moreover, this trial should be held in a transparent manner. The court should be free of pressure and intimidation and should be able to hand down an impartial verdict."

( . . . )

For more about Trevor Ncube, Anna Politkovskaya, Hrant Dink, the IPA Freedom Prize and the Cape Town Book Fair, see the full press release at: http://www.internationalpublishers.org/images/pdf/PRandPublications/FTP/pr%20freedom%20prize%2020070615.pdf

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