Index Freedom of Expression Awards 2014 winners
21 Mar 2014
From upper left: Shahzad Ahmad, Rahim Haciyev, Shu Choudhary, Mayam Mahmoud. (Photos: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

From upper left: Shahzad Ahmad, Rahim Haciyev, Shu Choudhary, Mayam Mahmoud. (Photos: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

This year’s Freedom of Expression Awards 2014 were awarded to a diverse group of remarkable individuals and organisation from the young female Egyptian Rapper to a Pakistani internet campaigner, from an Indian digital pioneer to an Azerbaijani newspaper.

The Freedom of Expression Awards 2014 took place this evening at the Barbican Centre in London and saw 18 year old, Egyptian rapper, Mayam Mahmoud win the Arts Award; Pakistani internet freedom fighter, Shahzad Ahmad pick up the Advocacy Award; Shu Choudhary, the Indian journalist who has created an egalitarian news platform receive the Digital Activism Award; and the Azeri newspaper, Azadliq, win the Journalism Award.

The Freedom of Expression Awards recognise the bravest journalists, artists and activists from around the world. From Edward Snowden to FreeWeibo and David Cecil to Colectivo Chuhcan, their remarkable true stories remind us that the right to free expression must be defended at all costs. Index is proud to bring these voices to London and shine a light on their work for the world to see.

Index Arts award: Mayam Mahmoud, Egyptian Hip-hop Artist

Mayam Mahmoud, award winning Egyptian Hip-hop Artist (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

Mayam Mahmoud, Egyptian Hip-hop Artist, accepting her award (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

A finalist on Arab’s Got Talent, hijab wearing Egyptian rapper Mayam Mahmoud uses hip-hop to address issues such as sexual harassment and to stand up for women’s rights in the country that, after the hope of Tahrir Square, is slipping back into authoritarianism.

Google Digital Activism award: Shubhranshu Choudhary, Indian Journalist

Shubhranshu Choudhary accepting his award (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

Shubhranshu Choudhary at the Index awards (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

Shubhranshu Choudhary is the brains behind CGNet Swara, a mobile-phone based news service that allows some of India’s poorest citizens to upload and listen to hyper-local reports in their own dialect, no smartphone required! CGNet Swara is both circumventing India’s strict radio licencing laws and creatively providing an outlet for those overlooked people on the wrong side of the digital divide.

The Guardian Journalism award: Azadliq, Azerbaijani independent Newspaper

Rahim Haciyev, deputy editor-in-chief of Azerbaijani newspaper Azadliq (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

Rahim Haciyev, deputy editor-in-chief of Azerbaijani newspaper Azadliq (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

One of the last independent media outlets in Azerbaijan, Azadliq has continued to report on government corruption and cronyism in spite of increasing pressures and a financial squeeze enforced by the authorities.

Doughty Street Advocacy award: Shahzad Ahmad, Pakistani Campaigner

Shahzad Ahmad accepting his award (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

Shahzad Ahmad at the Index awards (Photo: Alex Brenner for Index on Censorship)

Shahzad Ahmad leads the fight against online censorship in Pakistan. He has sued the Pakistani government over their suspected use of surveillance software, FinFisher, and he is suing the government over its ongoing blocking of YouTube which is depriving his people of one of the world’s most popular video channels.

#IndexAwards2014: The Doughty Street Advocacy Award winner Shahzad Ahmad from Index on Censorship on Vimeo.

One response to “Index Freedom of Expression Awards 2014 winners”


    EU practices double standards on civil rights. It’s freakish for EU to interfere in the civil rights of foreigners, but condone the abuse of my civil rights, a citizen of EU! EU should get its own house in order before lecturing others. EU should rein in Greece, the most corrupt country of Europe.


    The political philosopher Edmund Burke once remarked that all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good folks to do nothing. A glaring example is my persecution by the government of Greece, which grossly violates my civil rights.


    Martin Niemöller said:
    First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me!

    Basil Venitis, [email protected],, @Venitis

    It’s been now more than three years since the Pasok government of Greece stole my life, my computer, and my files. Nobody cares, nobody gives a damn! I have done absolutely nothing, and I am being persecuted by the Greek government without any real reason. My ordeal is against all rules of civil society and treaties that Greece has signed. Greece, a country without a functioning justice system, has gone bananas.



    On October 18, 2010, a gang of six brutal policemen of the violent Greek Cybercrime Unit (CCU), supervised by a dishonest prosecutor, raided my home in Athens and stole my computer, software, files, documents, and personal data.


    The policemen locked me in jail for a night, they humiliated me with handcuffs, fingerprints, mug shots, and lies, leaked false information to the media parrots, and the Greek government initiated sham ex-officio court proceedings for a stack of freakish trumped-up charges!


    There was neither pillow nor toilet facility in my jail cell. I had to urinate in a bottle! I, a 69-years-old man with high blood pressure, was not allowed to keep my hypertension pills with me. There was neither toilet paper nor soap in the whole CCU jail.


    Ex-officio law suit, αυτεπαγγελτος, the most dreadful word in justice, means the state sues somebody without involvement of the accuser. This terrible scheme has been used by the freakish Greek government to persecute me. Mariliza Xenogiannakopoulou, Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs, sued me, and she wouldn’t show up in court, because the state took over her position! Greece, a country of infinite political corruption, perjury, injustice, and brutal police, must be revamped.


    At the ex-officio law suit, the accuser just hits and runs! This hit-and-run justice is the most disgusting kangaroo justice on Earth. The accused must be in a position to face his accuser eyeball to eyeball. The malicious accuser slings false accusations against you, the state takes over, the accuser disappears from the court, and the trial is postponed infinite times! This is penalty of the presumed innocent. This is penalty without trial. This is kangaroo justice of Third World countries! This is barbarity and brutality, pure and simple. Shame, shame, shame on Greece.



    Please email appeals to Minitrue:

    • Calling for the immediate stop of the persecution of Basil Venitis.
    • Stating that you believe these trumped-up charges to be politically motivated and intended to prevent him exercising his right to freedom of expression against political corruption.
    • Seeking assurances that the civil rights of Basil Venitis will always be respected.


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