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UNESCO New York Office commemorates World Press Freedom Day

11-05-2009 (New York)
UNESCO New York Office commemorates World Press Freedom Day
Staffan de Mistura
© Stavro Jabra
UNESCO’s New York Office commemorated World Press Freedom Day with a live video broadcast from Doha, Qatar, that featured Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of UN Secretary-General for Iraq; and Frank La Rue, Special Rapporteur of Freedom of Opinion and Expression of United Nations.
Nearly 100 journalists, United Nations delegates, officials, and representatives of media advocacy groups and foundations attended the World Press Freedom Day luncheon programme held at the UN Secretariat.

Veteran American journalist Barbara Crossette, UN correspondent of The Nation, moderated the discussion from New York, which was transmitted live from Doha by the Al Jazeera network, via satellite. UNESCO Assistant-Director General for Communication and Information, Abdul Waheed Khan, moderated from Doha.

De Mistura discussed the role of the Iraqi media in promoting dialogue. “During the provincial elections, which have been the test of how to move from bullets to ballots in Iraq, the media of Iraq was extremely lively and crucial,” he said. According to him, training provided by UN and UNESCO played a crucial role in the media’s coverage of the elections, as well as encouraging participation by the burgeoning civil society.

“The image of the women and men, who showed their faces and their names, because they were able to debate in the TV and through the papers about their positions vis-a-vis the elections, was possible thanks to the media,” de Mistura said.

Sonali Samarasinghe, editor-in-exile, Sri Lanka, and widow of 2009 UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize Winner Lasantha Wickrematunge, participated by telephone from her home.

Giampaolo Pioli, President of the United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) and UN correspondent for the Quotidiano Nazionale of Italy, read excerpts from “Letter from the Grave”, the editorial that Lasantha Wickrematunge prepared prior to his assassination.

Commenting on her late husband’s legacy, Sonali Samarasinghe remarked, “Lasantha would have wanted more platforms, more alliances, more conferences, more actions and more voices to emerge. He had a dream for Sri Lanka: a secular, liberal democracy, in a multicultural, multiethnic society; a negotiated settlement to the ethnic conflict and respect for all communities. Lasantha died in pursuit of this dream.”
Related themes/countries

      · Qatar
      · United States of America
      · World Press Freedom Day 2009
      · Press Freedom: News Archives 2009
      · Lasantha Wickrematunge
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