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Kashmiri Photojournalist Masrat Zahra Wins 2020 Peter Mackler Award For Courageous & Ethical Journalism

Kashmiri Photojournalist Masrat Zahra. (Photo Courtesy: UMER ASIF)

Kashmiri photojournalist Masrat Zahra has been awarded the 2020 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism for her work covering events in Kashmir, with a specific focus on women in the region.

The Award is a project of the Global Media Forum Training Group (GMFTG), the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, Reporters Without Borders and Agence France-Presse.

In her note, Catherine Antoine, president of the Global Media Forum Training Group and founder of the Peter Mackler Award, said: “Masrat Zahra exhibits the very qualities that my late husband, Peter Mackler, fostered in the new generation of reporters whose path he crossed.”

“Masrat’s complete dedication to reporting the story, no matter the risks, along with her mental fearlessness and creative approach to use any medium at her disposal to bear witness to the world made our choice easy,” she added.

In a zoom interview with the Peter Mackler Award, Masrat Zahra from her home in Srinagar city said: “It’s our job to work and show the truth and you have to take risks to do it.”

She also said that she is privileged to tell the stories of Kashmiri women caught up in a conflict zone that has been ignored in the Kashmiri and international media.

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Applauding Zahra’s work, the award citation noted that over the course of her work, Zahra was “summoned by the police and accused of spreading fake news and giving support to enemies of the state, according to the “New Media Policy” of the government for Jammu and Kashmir, that Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has described as “Orwellian.”

In late April, Zahra was charged under the draconian Unlawful Activities Act (UAPA) for her work which she had uploaded on social media. Under this stringent law, a suspect can be jailed for up to seven years.

Previously, Zahra was awarded the 2020 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award by International Women’s Media Foundation which celebrates the courageous work of women photojournalists.

Zahra will be honoured with the award in a virtual ceremony in New York City on Sept. 24, 2020.

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