Artist Anish Kapoor, campaigner Ailbhe Smyth and writer Fatima Bhutto are to join a panel of judges to decide Index on Censorship’s 2021 Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship winners.
Since 2001, the Freedom of Expression Awards have celebrated individuals or groups who have had a significant impact fighting censorship anywhere in the world.
Awards are offered in three categories: Arts, Campaigning and Journalism. Anyone who has had a demonstrable impact in tackling censorship is eligible and nominations are open to all. Winners join Index’s Awards Fellowship programme and receive dedicated training and support.
Anish Kapoor is considered one of the most influential sculptors working today. He was born in Mumbai in 1954 and lives and works in London. He won the Turner Prize in 1991 and, in 2013, he received a knighthood for services to the arts.
Kapoor said, “Index on Censorship does vital work to keep the freedom of the press and our freedom of expression and thereby protects our right to protest, our right to disagree and our need to hold government to account. I applaud Index on Censorship for the work it does with artists, journalists, lawyers and many others to help to ensure that the human spirit in us is kept alive.”
Ailbhe Smyth was the founding head of women’s studies at University College Dublin and is a long-time feminist and LGBT activist.
Smyth said, “At this time of intense global crisis – human and environmental – and with democracy itself under threat in so many parts of the world, it is all the more vital for us to stand up for hard-won human rights, for equality and for justice for all. The right to express ourselves freely is, I believe, fundamental to our human existence and must be both celebrated and, wherever necessary, defended with spirit and determination.”
Fatima Bhutto was born in Afghanistan and grew up between Syria and Pakistan and is the author of several works of fiction and non-fiction, most recently The Runaways and New Kings of the World.
The judges will be joined by Index on Censorship chief executive, Ruth Smeeth, and the panel will be chaired by Trevor Phillips.
Smeeth said, “2020 has seen some horrendous attacks on global free expression, which went underreported due to the realities of Covid-19. Our inspirational judges have big decisions to make this year about who we reward for standing up for our basic right to free speech.”
Previous judges include digital campaigner and entrepreneur Martha Lane Fox, Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, Harry Potter actor Noma Dumezweni, novelist Elif Shafak and award-winning journalist and former editor-inchief of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker Tina Brown.
This year’s winners will be announced at a gala celebration in London on 12 September 2021.