The Nobel Peace Prize 2021 has been awarded to two journalists, Maria Ressa from the Philippines and Dmitry Muratov from Russia. The chairperson of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen announced the winners on Friday, October 8. She said that rewards were given to them for their efforts to protect freedom of expression against abuse of power, misinformation, and war propaganda. Undoubtedly, without freedom of expression and press, maintaining friendship between nations would have been difficult.
Nobel Peace Prize 2021 for the Work of Journalists
The committee has acknowledged the fact that Nobel Peace Prize 2021 awards came during a time when journalists worldwide are facing increasing pressure from authoritarian governments and other hostile forces. The winners are representatives of all the journalists standing up to defend democracy amid adverse conditions.
The last time a journalist won a peace prize was in 2011. It was given to Tawakkol Karman, who shared it with two other laureates for leading a non-violent struggle for women’s right to fully participating in peace-building work and their safety. This award came off as a little surprise because, after 1935, no peace prize was being given to journalists for 76 years.
Known as one of the biggest controversies in Nobel Prize history, Carl von Ossietzky was awarded in 1935 for his valuable contribution to the peace cause. He was famous for criticizing the German Reichswehr for condoning paramilitary organizations and opposed the secret German rearmament which violated the Treaty of Versailles. He was tortured by the Hitler regime and was kept in prison for 7 months but was knows as a symbol of democratic resistance against the evil dictator. Hitler was so infuriated by Ossietzky’s win that he ordered all Germans to never accept any Nobel prize in the future.
Who is Maria Ressa?
Maria Ressa co-founded the investigative journalism website Rappler. She mostly focused on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and his controversial war on drugs, which often seemed violent. Through her site, she documented how social media played a key role in spreading fake news, harassing political opponents, and manipulating public discourse.
She is currently the first woman to win Nobel Peace Prize 2021. Due to her brazen fact-finding crusade, she was convicted of libel last year and sentenced to jail, a move that was seen as a major blow to global freedom of the press. However, she continued to exercise her rights and hold power to account.
Ressa was shocked to learn that she had received the prize. While addressing her victory, she exclaimed that journalism has become more important than ever in today’s time. Especially when its gatekeeping powers have been taken over by the big tech. She called for the nations to unite against rising misinformation so that they can avoid becoming its target or victim (eventually).
Who is Dmitry Muratov?
Dmitry Muratov founded the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta in 1993 which is one of the very few independent news outlets in Russia. Ever since its establishment, 6 of its journalists have been murdered. An emotional Muratov said that he could not take credit for Nobel Peace Prize 2021 because it belonged to his colleagues who died defending the right of people to freedom of speech.
According to the reports, during the last decade, around 17 media officials in the Philippines and 23 in Russia have been killed. Nevertheless, Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta maintained a fundamentality critical attitude towards anything wielding power.
Speaking of power, the Russian government has reportedly congratulated the win of Muratov despite the fact that his newspaper often criticized the activities of the Kremlin and its authoritative power. Russian government’s spokesperson told the media that Dmitry Muratov was persistent with work and his individual ideals. Kremlin’s representative also described Muratov as talented, devoted, and brave.
Notably, ex-POTUS Donald Trump was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize 2021.