International award to journalist Nava Thakuria


by South Asia Journal     2 December 2021

The Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) has rewarded senior
journalist Nava Thakuria, a resident of northeast India and a
a long-time contributor to us (SouthAsiaJournal), 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 Guwahati-based working journalist was awarded on 30 November 2021
remotely as it was difficult for him to reach Geneva because of the
Covid-19 restrictions. Even a virtual interaction program with a group
of journalists there was also canceled at the last moment.
“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
Blaise Lempen, secretary-general of PEC.

In 2021, the media fraternity in India was the most affected by the
novel coronavirus along with Brazil. The PEC award also wants to pay
tribute to some 300 journalists who died throughout India with
Covid-19 complications. The largest democracy in the globe also lost
six journalists to assailants to date this year.

“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.

Journalism, be it print, electronic or digital, remains a hazardous
job in India. Most of the media persons are deprived of due salaries
in the Indian sub-continent and often they also face threats from both
the government and non-state actors including the anti-social
elements. The Covid-19 has impacted severely upon the Indian media
industry, he added.

Besides his home country, Thakuria has also taken the pain to document
the media crisis in Myanmar (also known as Burma or Brahmadesh) and
reported the detention of over 120 journalists after the military coup
in February. Nearly 40 out of them are still behind the bars in the
military-ruled country.

A graduate from Assam Engineering College (under Gauhati University,
but preferred to be a professional journalist), Thakuria contributes
news features to various newspapers of India along with several media
outlets based in different parts of the world.

Starting his career as a reporter in Natun Dainik, a popular Assamese
language daily in 1990, Thakuria shifted to freelance journalism in
English by 1999.  His focus area of reporting remains the
socio-political, cultural, and environmental developments taking place
in eastern India along with Bhutan, Tibet, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.
The changing faces of mainstream journalism after the advent of
alternate media worldwide is also a primary focus area for him. Till
now Thakuria has visited most of the prime localities in India and
also Thimphu, Dhaka, Yangon, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Copenhagen,
Chicago, etc for different events and professional assignments.
Created in the Swiss city of Geneva in 2004 by a group of journalists,
PEC the global media safety and rights body with the 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. In the previous year, the PEC rewarded Afghanistan
Journalists Center 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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