General: Courage in Journalism Awards honours Solafa Magdy from Egypt and Yakeen Bido from Syria
The International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF) honoured two journalists from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with the Courage in Journalism Awards on 20 May 2020 - imprisoned Egyptian multimedia journalist Solafa Magdy (photo on the left) and freelance broadcast journalist in Syria Yakeen Bido (photo on the right). The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) joins in honouring Magdy and Bido for their work and bravery, and all other women journalists in the region who continue to report the truth despite bearing the risks that come with this work.
This year’s award winners “remind us that those who tell the world’s most vital stories, whatever the risks may be, are our true heroes,” said Elisa Lees Munoz, IWMF’s Executive Director. In a such environments where freedom of speech is challenged, triggering persecution and defamation, Magdy and Bido kept on working to reveal the truth and expose the realities.
In November 2019, Magdy was arrested in Cairo together with her husband and their friend (both also journalists), and all three were charged with spreading false information and being members of a banned group. Before her arrest, Magdy was covering human rights issues including women’s and minorities rights, focusing on sexual harassment, social unrest, immigration and refugees. She also founded Everyday Footage in 2017, to teach mobile journalism. One of the last cases she worked on before her arrest was the detention of Esraa Abdel Fattah who was arrested a few weeks before Magdy. Magdy was beaten during and after arrest for not giving access to her mobile phone, and there have been reports that her health has deteriorated due to medical neglect in Qanater prison where she remains to this day under dire conditions. Bido has been covering the Syrian conflict for the past five years, including the political, military and humanitarian issues, which led to her being arrested several times, interrogated and attacked with smear campaigns. Bido still works in one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, which is even worse for women journalists, despite the high risks and death threats.
These two brave journalists represent many others in the region, who work to expose the truth and suffer horrible consequences for the work they do. As women journalists, they are subjected by definition to multiple gendered-based targeting, violence and attacks. “Yes, these journalists are heroes, to their communities, their countries and to the world. Honouring them internationally, is just a simple acknowledgement of their heroism and bravery; highlighting the need to protect women journalists from those who seek to hide the truth by targeting those who speak it,” said GCHR’s Journalists Protection Officer, Zaynab Al-Khawaja.
GCHR also seizes this opportunity to recognize the risks to women journalists in the region on a daily basis, whether in conflict or authoritarian environments, and stands in awe of their determination and strength. GCHR calls for an end to all attacks on journalists, whether they be on their lives, well-being or freedom.