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 » Irina Bokova opens World Press Freedom Day with Indonesian President
03.05.2017 - ODG

Irina Bokova opens World Press Freedom Day with Indonesian President


Critical Minds for Critical Times: The media’s role in advancing peaceful, just and inclusive societies –this is the theme of UNESCO’s main celebration of this year’s World Press Freedom Day, 3 May.

Taking place in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 1 to 4 May, the event aims to raise awareness of the importance of free and fact-based journalism in promoting peace and justice and supporting the efficiency, accountability and inclusiveness of institutions, in line with the 16th United Nations Sustainable Development Goal. It is ‎organized with the Government of Indonesia and the Indonesian Press Council.

The 3 May celebration was led by H.E. Joko Widodo, the President of Indonesia, and opened by Jusuf Kalla, Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia, and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO. 

In his speech, H.E. Joko Widodo, the President of Indonesia, underlined the vital importance of "political freedom, including freedom of expression and freedom of the press."

Pointing to the wide-ranging achievements of Indonesia over the last two decades, the President said to a roomful of journalists, "We could not‎ have done this without you!"

During his speech, Vice President Kalla reiterated the commitment of Indonesia to promoting freedom of expression as part of all efforts to advance democracy and development.

"Governments need critical views, to ensure good governance and reflect the views of the people," said the Vice President.

In her opening statement, Irina Bokova said: “We meet today in Jakarta to celebrate a freedom at the heart of all freedoms. This freedom is essential to empowering women and men, to bolstering good governance, to strengthening healthy societies, to advancing sustainable development and peace.”

The Director-General underlined UNESCO’s leading role in defending freedom of expression and media freedom: “UNESCO is the United Nations agency with the mandate to promote freedom of expression, to defend journalists and their safety. This mission is inscribed in the UNESCO Constitution, and it is essential to take forward the 2030 Agenda, to leave no one behind.”

H.E. Joko Widodo, the President of Indonesia, hosted the ceremony awarding the 2017 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize to Mr Dawit Isaak, the imprisoned Eritrean-born journalist, who was represented by his daughter, Bethelem Isaak.

President Widodo spoke of the serious threats and challenges facing press freedom today but he stressed his confidence in the possibility of tackling them.

"We will overcome, we have done it before and we shall do it again," he stated.

Irina Bokova continued: “This is the spirit underpinning the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize -- to shine light on those who stand for fundamental freedoms and human rights, despite all pressures – and this spirit is carried forward by Dawit Isaak, whose courage and commitment we honour today.”

Speaking on behalf of the laureate, his daughter Bethelem Isaak underlined the importance of freedom of expression and all human rights, justice,  stability, and prosperity.

"This Prize is recognition of my father's work and all those who have chosen to stand up for the rights of others," she said, underlining the need for hope and compassion, the love of peace and harmony.‎ 

"Let us all keep our dignity and be tolerant," she urged.

Notable speakers at the conference included José Ramos-Horta, Former President of Timor-Leste and 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Richard Gingras, Vice President of News at Google, and Oscar Cantu Murguia, editor of Norte, the Mexican newspaper that had to close down operations last month following the killing of one of its journalists. 

Some 30 partners have contributed to World Press Freedom Day 2017 in Jakarta, with events featuring training sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions, drawing some 1,600 participants, from over 95 countries from across the world.

Approximately 80 other Press Freedom events have been organized around the world this year while leading news organizations hosted dedicated blogs and featured special content for World Press Freedom Day.


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