Mazen Darwish given World Press Freedom Prize in Riga

Syrian journalist and free speech defender Mazen Darwish received worldwide recognition in Latvian capital Riga Sunday when his wife Yara Bader was presented with UNESCO's World Press Freedom Prize in a ceremony at the Latvian National Library.

The award, made by UNESCO director general Irina Bokova and in the presence of Latvian President Andris Berzins, honors Darwish's brave stand for freedom of expression: a stand that has already cost him torture and three years in jail with no immediate end in sight after dozens of court postponements.

"Today we are gathered together to express gratitude and appreciation to this year's winner, Syrian journalist Mazen Darwish. He continues to resolutely defend the ideals of freedom of expression, and pays for it with long-term imprisonment," said Berzins at the ceremony.

Darwish's wife Yara Bader spoke to LSM on the sidelines of the event.

According to Yara, he has "already forgiven those who tortured him almost to death" and is both aware of and proud of the face that he has won the award.

She dedicated the award Darwish's children and all those who have lost their lives in Syria, saying "We need a time to learn how to listen to people who have different opinions... we need to stop [fighting] and start listening."

Yara also said she took encouragement from the example of Peter Greste, was was himself released after a lengthy imprisonment.

"I'm very sure Mazen will be released one day," she said. 

Yara Bader on Peter Greste

    You can find out more about Mazen and his stand for media freedom, as well as the many other political prisoners currently in Syria here.

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