NEW YORK — A single mother who was harassed and beaten for reporting on the 2009 Iranian uprising, a Mexican journalist whose work means daily defiance of the drug cartels, and a Thai woman facing 20 years in prison for criticizing the monarchy on her website each received a courage award Tuesday from a women's media group.
The International Women's Media Foundation also gave its Lifetime Achievement Award to the BBC's Kate Adie, whose decades on the job have taken her from Afghanistan, to the Tiananmen Square protests to the war in Bosnia. She has slept in graves, been shot in the elbow and still has shrapnel in her foot.
"Reporting is a privilege," Adie said in her acceptance speech. "Tell the world. That's it: the responsibility and the privilege."
In a nod to the three Courage in Journalism Award winners, the Briton acknowledged her luck at living in a country where freedom of speech is protected.
The three courage award winners – Adela Navarro Bello, 43, general director of Zeta newsmagazine in Tijuana, Mexico; Parisa Hafezi, 41, who is the Reuters bureau chief in Tehran, Iran; and Chiranuch Premchaiporn, 44, webmaster and director of Prachatai online newspaper – face dire obstacles in their home countries on a daily basis.
"In my country, it is possible to kill a reporter and nothing will happen to you," Navarro Bello said.
She would know: Zeta's co-founder, Hector Felix Miranda, was murdered in 1988 in retaliation for covering the drug war. In 2004, co-editor Francisco Ortiz Franco was killed in front of his two children.
Iranian-born Hafezi was beaten by riot police as she worked to cover the protests that followed Iran's disputed elections in 2009. On different occasions Iran's Revolutionary Guard has threatened to arrest her, she has been detained and beaten, undercover officers have raided Reuters' offices and her home.
"A lot of people have asked me how I can do this job," Hafezi said. "This is not my job – this is my life."
Thailand's Premchaiporn is looking at 20 years in prison if she is convicted in a case that has turned the international spotlight on Thailand's computer crime and freedom laws. The government says she should have deleted remarks posted on her website by readers critical of the monarchy. Premchaiporn is free on bail and her trial is ongoing. She is suing the Thai government for its attempts to block her website, according to her biography released by the IWMF.
"I never expected to be a symbol of Internet freedom," Premchaiporn said. "The international spotlight on my case will force Thailand to address the issue."