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.
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.
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.
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.
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.