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MADA announces free expression award recipients

(MADA/IFEX) - Ramallah, 2 May 2011 - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) conducted an opening ceremony for World Press Freedom Day, 3 May 2011, in its headquarters in Ramallah today.

In honour of this day, MADA announced the results of its Award for Freedom of Expression. The organisation recognised a number of journalists who have made a special contribution to MADA's news coverage and activities. The event commenced with a minute of silence in honour of journalists who have died in the line of duty.

MADA chairman Dr. Ghazi Hanania welcomed guests and spoke of the major violations against journalists in 2010 - a total of 218 violations according to MADA's monitoring, 80% of which were committed by Israeli Occupation Forces and settlers.

Hanania summarised the Center's efforts in defence of press freedom, highlighting various activities, such as the monitoring and documenting of violations, public exposure through the issuing of press releases, monthly and annual reports. He also commented on the continued operation of the Center's legal unit which has been serving journalists with free legal advice since May 2010, holding workshops introducing journalists to local and international legislation concerning freedom of expression and the available mechanisms for the protection of journalists, and other direct and indirect activities.

Hanania thanked MADA's board members, staff and partners, in particular the UNESCO Office in Ramallah which supported the event, and all those who supported the Centre's work in promoting freedom of opinion and expression and developing the Palestinian media sector. Hanania concluded by sending greetings to the families of Palestinian journalists killed in the line of duty and to all Palestinian journalists who continue covering events in spite of the suffering and violations they face.

Celebrations continued with journalist Montaser Hamdan presenting the award committee report and announcing the winners of MADA's Award for Freedom of Expression. Award recipients are as follows:

Report category:
First prize - Mahmoud Fataftah
Second prize - Zuhair Dolah
Third prize - Majid Abu Salama

Article category:
First prize - Samir Zaqout
Second prize - Akel Abu Qare'
Third prize - shared by Ahmed Milham and Mustafa Ibrahim

The first prize for the poster category was awarded to Bilal Hirbawi.

Winners from the Gaza Strip will receive their prizes tomorrow during the World Press Freedoms Day ceremony.

MADA also took this opportunity to honour a number of journalists for their exceptional coverage of MADA news and activities, and for their professional efforts in developing the media sector in the occupied Palestinian territories. Mr. Aref Jaffal received a special mention for his efforts and contribution to the preparation of MADA's Strategic Plan.

MADA closed the ceremony with the distribution of the 3 May World Press Freedoms Day posters and the presentation of a video short honouring the suffering of Palestinian photographers.

MADA will host another celebration this afternoon at 4pm in Jerusalem and will participate via videoconference in the celebration held in Gaza tomorrow evening at 7:30pm.

Commemoration events will conclude on Sunday 8 May 2011 with the opening of a special photographic exhibit of images exposing the suffering of journalists in the region. The exhibit will be launched at the headquarters of Al Quds Open University in Ramallah, then travel to the various university branches throughout the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.

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