(BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan) Two RFE journalists covering Kazakhstan have been awarded major journalism prizes by the London-based Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) for their "outstanding coverage of human rights issues in Central Asia."
RFE's Almaty-based Dilbegim Mavloniy earned the honor for her series of reports on a group of more than 200 Kazakh Muslims seeking asylum in the Czech Republic, which eventually prompted authorities to stop their forced deportation. And RFE's Zhasulan Kuzhekov was recognized for his reporting on a string of violent prison riots in Kazakhstan earlier this year.
Kuzhekov, who is based in Astana, reported directly from the scene of a bloody crackdown on a prison riot in Northern Kazakhstan in August in which authorities brought in troops and heavy machinery from the Kazakh army. His reporting received a huge amount of feedback from prisoners' relatives and, according to some Kazakh human rights activists, was responsible for a softening of the tactics used by prison officials.
IWPR handed out the awards in Bishkek on December 10, corresponding to the UN's Human Rights Day. The jury consisted of prominent human rights activists and media experts from Central Asia and the competition was conducted in partnership with the regional office of the United Nations High Commision for Human Rights (UNHCR) and the U.S. Embassy in Tajikstan.
About RFE's Kazakh Service
Since 1953, RFE's Kazakh Service, known locally as Radio Azattyq, has been an important source of independent information for people in Kazakhstan. In 2009, Radio Azattyq won the prestigious 2009 Online Journalism Award for “standing in defense of citizen’s rights to seek and receive information.”