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Geneva media rights group awards Assam journalist for 'defending' press freedom

By Our Representative

The Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), a global media safety and rights body, has rewarded senior journalist Nava Thakuria, a resident of northeast India, for his "relentless initiatives to safeguard the rights of media persons in the South Asian country and also defending the press freedom in the region with an exemplary commitment."
The Assam-based working journalist was awarded o November 30, 2021 remotely as it was difficult for him to reach Geneva because of the Covid-19 restrictions. “It is the first time that the PEC rewards a journalist from India, the second most populous country of the world. India has a strong democracy and a vibrant press. Last year, however, a record number of 15 journalists were killed in India and six this year. Journalists are targeted documenting abuses, corruption, criminal activities,” said PEC secretary-general Blaise Lempen.
In 2021, the media fraternity in India was the most affected by novel coronavirus along with Brazil. Even as giving out the award, PEC paid tribute to some 300 journalists who died throughout India with Covid-19 complications.
“Receiving the PEC award is a great honour and represents a strong incentive to continue my work. I now feel more responsible for my colleagues in the media fraternity. At the same time, I greatly appreciate this award which draws attention to the situation of journalists in my country,” said Thakuria.
The award comes at a time when journalism, be it print, electronic or digital, is becoming an increasingly hazardous job in India. Media persons are not duly paid here and often they face threats from both the government and non-state actors including the goons.
Besides his home country, Thakuria has also taken the pain to document the media crisis in Myanmar and
reported the detention of over 120 journalists after the military coup in February. Nearly 40 out of them are still behind the bars there.
A graduate from Assam Engineering College (under Gauhati University), but preferred to be a professional journalist, Thakuria contributes to various newspapers of India along with several media outlets based in
the different parts of the world. Starting his career as a reporter in "Natun Dainik", an Assamese language daily in 1990, Thakuria shifted to freelance journalism in 1999. His focus area of reporting remains the socio-political, cultural and environmental developments taking place in eastern India along with Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The changing face of mainstream journalism after the advent of alternate media worldwide is also a primary focus area for him. He has visited most of the prime localities in India and also Thimphu, Dhaka, Yangon, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Copenhagen, Chicago, etc. for different global events and professional assignments.
Created in the Swiss city of Geneva in 2004 by a group of journalists, PEC, which has consultative status at the United Nations, is devoted to strengthening the legal protection and safety of journalists around the world.
Since 2009, it has been awarding its annual prize to an individual or an organization, who works for the protection of journalists and the press freedom on the ground. The award had earlier gone to Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui in 2020. The previous year, PEC rewarded Afghanistan Journalists' Centre director Ahmad Quraishi, whereas in 2018 the award went to the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia (who was murdered in Malta in October 2017).

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