United States Labour Movement Honours IFJ with Human Rights Award

The leaders of the United States labour movement have voted to award its flagship human rights award for 2006 to the International Federation of Journalists in recognition of the IFJ’s work in defence of media workers around the world.

Leaders of the AFL-CIO meeting in Las Vegas last week voted to present the 2006 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award to the IFJ for “it’s members’ commitment to telling the story at the risk of their lives.” The prestigious award is named after two of America’s leading union leaders of the last century.

In a statement the AFL-CIO said:

“In recognition of its members’ unfailing courage and selflessness in the pursuit of truth, we are proud to present the 2006 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award to the IFJ on behalf of media workers around the world. From working members of the press who risk their lives and often die to tell the story come the world’s photos, film, videos and news every minute of each day so we might know what’s really going on.

“We ask IFJ General Secretary Aidan White to accept this human rights award on behalf of such journalists as Daniel Pearl of The Wall Street Journal, a member of The Newspaper Guild-CWA who was brutally executed on videotape; Russian investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down in her apartment building; Murdered Mexican journalist Roberto Marcos Garcia; Colombian journalist Santiago Rodríguez Villalba, who was killed by extreme right-wing paramilitaries; and murdered Iraqi journalist and Associated Press cameraman Aswan Ahmed Lutfallah.”

The award recognises the IFJ’s campaigning work on the safety of journalists, its actions in promoting a United Nations Security Council resolution adopted in December, and the role of the IFJ’s International Safety Fund in providing humanitarian assistance to the victims of violence in media.

The IFJ’s United States affiliates welcomed the award. John Connolly, out-going leader of the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, which represents broadcast staff, and his successor President Bob Edwards, sent a message on behalf of AFTRA leaders and Executive Director Kim Roberts Hedgpeth expressing “our warmest congratulations on this award, and our deepest thanks for the indispensable role that you and IFJ play in defending our journalists' rights, integrity, and lives in this the too-dangerous 21st century.”

On Behalf of the National Writers’ Union President Gerry Colby expressed the

“NWU's pride in being a member of IFJ. Your work has been truly an inspiration to journalists around the world. My best wishes and congratulations to all IFJ leaders and staff. Bravo! “

Not least among those welcoming the decision was Linda Foley, an IFJ Vice President and President of The Newspapers Guild-CWA which organises journalists and staff across the United States press sector.

“The work you have done on behalf of journalists around the world deserves to be recognized and commended,” she said. “I'm proud to be an officer.”

Last year the TNG-CWA also honoured the IFJ with the presentation of the Guild's Herbert Block Award to the IFJ International Safety Fund in recognition of the Fund's humanitarian assistance to victims of violence in media.

The full text of the AFL-CIO statement can be read here.