Image Credit: Sikarin Thanachaiary
Maria Ressa shares this year’s Nobel Peace Prize with fellow journalist, Dimitri Muratov from Russia. Ressa, notably, is the first Filipino Nobel Laureate.
More importantly, as the Chair of the Nobel Committee pointed out, ‘Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda.’ And that the recipients this year ‘are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions’.
Ressa spent a decade working in senior roles at CNN, then returned to the Philippines to set up the Rappler. In 2018 the NY Times listed her as the ‘person of the year’ along with other journalists who had all shown remarkable courage and conviction in combatting fake news and defending the free press.
In the last few years, Ressa has repeatedly faced a series of trumped-up charges, through political machinations of the Philippines government. In this process she has garnered support and admiration from many international organisations, including PEN International. PEN Perth, along with many other chapters, was active on her behalf, especially during the period of her detention in early 2019.
Amongst the contenders for the Nobel Peace prize this year were the iconic young environmental activist Greta Thunberg and the heroic Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. That the Nobel committee decided to award the prize to two journalist underscores not just the courage and commitment of two individual journalists, but also the importance of the free press as the basis on which so many other aspects of all our lives depend.
—Krishna Sen, Writers in Prison Coordinator