Tuesday, 2 June 2009

People@IFEX 09

Intrepid insights from the youngest delegate at the GFFE, Koroi Hawkins of the Solomon Islands

Community Broadcasters at IFEX
Continuing our profiling of participants at the IFEX General Meeting, I spoke with a group of women from the Americas some who did not speak that much English, but after a few tries I managed get them to understand I wanted to Interview them. The three ladies Aleida Calleta, Laura Salas and Elia Baltazar were advocators of Freedom of Expression in South America and they proceeded to tell me of the wide range of complex issues that journalists in South America face and of some of the atrocities suffered by journalists in practicing the right to express themselves. They work for an association called AMARC, and they said their interest in being members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange was because they were a relatively small organization and looked to IFEX for support and assistance on a global stage to further their work. Their main interests lay in training and financial assistance and the ability to get their alerts out in into the world quickly and efficiently. They seemed to have a very bleak outlook for Freedom of Expression in the World in the years ahead. In their own words, “The whole world is a problem -- the status of freedom of expression in weak.” Freedom of Expression across South America they say is subject to every kind of violation ever conceived and it their hope that having a global voice will give them enough power to make a change.
Other IFEX newbies: EJN
Another very interesting group of particpants at the IFEX general meetings are various associations for journalists in exile. One of these organizations and one which like Pacific Freedom Forum, only became a full member of IFEX at this general meeting are the Exiled Journalist Network, EJN, working out of the UK. The EJN works with Escaped Journalists, people who feel they can no longer practice their work in their home countries and who go to the UK hoping they can find freedom to practice their work. I actually approached their representative, Abel Ugba while he was waiting with us outside for the final result of the voting on our applications for membership.In explaining his reasons for applying for membership Ugba said, “IFEX has a lot of international clout, our work so far has been very localized and so we believe IFEX can give us the international clout we need He said his association hoped to benefit from the wealth of experience IFEX has but at the same time he said he believed his organization could also be beneficial to IFEX. “Not everybody knows what IFEX is, I believe we can make what IFEX does known to more people on the Ground”—Koroi Hawkins.

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