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Index on Censorship opens up archive to mark 40th birthday, announces free expression award winners

Marble Arm, 2006: An image pulled from an Index on Censorship interview with celebrated Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Index has opened up its entire archive for 40 days
Marble Arm, 2006: An image pulled from an Index on Censorship interview with celebrated Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. In celebration of its 40th anniversary, Index has opened up its entire archive for 40 days

Ai Weiwei/Index on Censorship

Index on Censorship is celebrating 40 years of existence, and wants you to be a part of it. In honour of the 40th anniversary, Index's publisher Sage has opened up the Index archive to the public for 40 days starting this week. Plus, hot off the press: the winners of Index's Free Expression Awards!

Trawl through plays, essays and reportage by some of the 20th century's best authors standing up for free expression, like South African writer Nadine Gordimer's firsthand account of the end of apartheid in South Africa, and Salman Rushdie on the banning of "Satanic Verses".

Use Sage's award-winning search function to seek out your favourite free expression writers and activists, such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Arthur Miller, Kurt Vonnegut and Margaret Atwood.

Or skip to the highlights with the editor's top 10 picks, which read like a "who's who" in the free expression world: there's a sketch by Czechoslovakia's formerly banned playwright, Václav Havel, an ominous piece by Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya about the difficulties of reporting on Chechnya, and an interview with celebrated Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.

Also check out the latest issue of Index on Censorship, which marks the 40th anniversary. It includes an article by Aung San Suu Kyi on the future of free speech, an extract from Ariel Dorfman's new play and a photo essay by Magnum photographer Abbass. The issue "is a testament to why free speech must be protected and cherished," said Index.

Index has also announced the winners of its annual free expression awards, which pay tribute to those around the world who have made outstanding contributions to free expression.

A special award celebrating the 40th anniversary went to the research and information centre Memorial in St. Petersburg, Russia, for its work recording the brutal repression in former Soviet countries - even surviving a raid on its office by the general prosecutor's office in 2009.

More recently, Memorial acted as a centre for information-gathering during the parliamentary and presidential elections this year, and trained election observers.

Other champions of free expression were also honoured at Index's awards ceremony this evening. Azerbaijani investigative journalist Idrak Abbasov won the journalism award. Kubatana, based in Zimbabwe, won the innovation award for Freedom Fone, mobile phone technology that lets Zimbabweans share independent information. Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat took home the arts award for his thousands of dictator caricatures. And IFEX's own member Bahrain Center for Human Rights won the advocacy award for keeping international attention on the brutal government crackdown of peaceful demonstrations.

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