One Free Press Coalition's '10 Most Urgent' list, June 2021

Ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20, the One Free Press Coalition releases its monthly “10 Most Urgent” list with a spotlight on journalists forced to flee their homes or go into exile, as well as threats faced by journalists reporting at borders.

The type of threats that force journalists to leave their homes can vary, ranging from sustained harassment, to physical and legal threats or threats of imprisonment, all impeding their ability to live and work without fear. Journalists from all regions seek safety elsewhere when press crackdowns intensify, with recent examples in Myanmar and Ethiopia. Local journalists, unlike international journalists who may be able to move more freely, when faced with threats often have no other option than to leave behind their homes and even their families. As the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) found in a 2015 report, only about 17 percent of journalists who fled their countries were able to continue working during their time in exile.

Journalists in crisis situations looking for support and resources are encouraged to reach out to International Women’s Media Foundation and CPJ directly.

1.Raman Pratasevich (Belarus)

Raman Pratasevich (Zhyoltiye Slivy Telegram Channel Screenshot)
Raman Pratasevich. (Zhyoltiye Slivy Telegram Channel Screenshot)

Belarusian authorities diverted a commercial flight to Minsk in order to arrest exiled journalist Raman Pratasevich, founder and editor of Telegram channels that covered protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Belarusian authorities launched investigations against him in relation to his journalism.

2. Benjamín Morales (Mexico)

Benjamín Morales Hernández (via Twitter)
Benjamín Morales. (via Twitter)

The local journalist working in a Northern Mexico border town in Sonora was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds, as violence surges in the state.

3. Ayham al-Gareeb, Mohammad Shubat, Mousa al-Jamaat and Okba Mohammad (Syria)

Baynana (Baynana and Okba Mohammad)
Baynana. (Baynana and Okba Mohammad)

Facing dire threats in Syria in connection to their reporting, local journalists find safety in Spain and launch Madrid’s first refugee-led, Spanish-Arabic news site, Baynana.

4. Pouyan Khoshhal (Iran)

Pouyan Khoshhal (Pouyan Khoshhal)
Pouyan Khoshhal. (Pouyan Khoshhal)

Imprisoned, fired and forced into exile for a single story, the journalist continues to report on news and politics in Iran for IranWire and still faces a sentence if he returns to Iran.

5. Natalia Zubkova (Russia)

Natalia Zubkova (Zubkova family archive)
Natalia Zubkova. (Zubkova family archive)

After facing an attack and death threats, Zubkova and her family were pushed into hiding — and forced to flee Russia — following her reporting on local protests as well as an alleged real estate scheme targeting disabled people.

6. Amade Abubacar (Mozambique)

Amade Abubacar (Amade Abubacar)
Amade Abubacar. (Amade Abubacar)

Covering families fleeing militant attacks in Cabo Delgado province, where an ongoing conflict has displaced hundreds of thousands, Abubacar was arrested and detained for 108 days in several prisons in 2019. Though released, the radio journalist still faces charges.

7. Carlos Ketohou (Togo)

Carlos Ketohou (Komlanvi Ketohou)
Carlos Ketohou. (Komlanvi Ketohou)

The director of Togolese outlet L’Indépendant Express was forced to leave his home after security forces detained him, and his family received anonymous threats. Authorities have barred the outlet from publishing, and legal challenges are ongoing.

8. Can Dündar (Turkey)

Can Dundar, former editor-in-chief of Cumhurryiet, Turkey's main opposition newspaper which was raided by Turkish police on Monday, is pictured after an interview with Reuters in Berlin, Germany, November 4, 2016. (Axel Schmidt/Reuters)
Can Dündar, former editor in chief of Turkey’s main opposition newspaper, Cumhuriyet. (Axel Schmidt/Reuters)

The former editor in chief of the Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet founded independent radio station Özgürüz while living in exile in Germany. He is appealing a 27-and-a-half-year prison sentence on anti-state charges from Turkish authorities.

9. Gerall Chávez (Nicaragua)

Gerall Chávez (Gerall Chávez)
Gerall Chávez. (Gerall Chávez)

One of the dozens of Nicaraguan journalists forced into exile since 2018, Chávez has continued to face threats even while living in Costa Rica, including ones directed toward his family, who remain in Nicaragua.

10. Humayra Bakhtiyar (Tajikistan)

Humayra Bakhtiyar (via Twitter)
Humayra Bakhtiyar. (via Twitter)

A journalist and human rights activist covering politics and corruption, Bakhtiyar, who was forced into exile in the EU in 2016, remains outspoken even as she faces continued online harassment and threats from Tajik authorities directed at her family.

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