Winners of 2020 Human Rights Press Awards announced
A protester uses a mattress from a dormitory nearby to shield himself from pepper-spray pellets and bean bag rounds fired by the police to end a pro-democracy protest in the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Photo: Lai Chun Kit, Ming Pao.

Winners of 2020 Human Rights Press Awards announced

In a year of protests in Hong Kong, a sudden lockdown in Kashmir and government crackdowns on “fake news,” the winning entries in the Human Rights Press Awards (HRPA) showcase tenacity and creativity of journalistic story-telling about human rights in Asia.

A deep dive by The Washington Post into police conduct during Hong Kong’s months-long demonstrations, titled “In Hong Kong Crackdown, Police Repeatedly Broke Their Own Rules — and Faced No Consequences”, won the English-language Investigative Feature Writing award.

“This is arguably, from a human rights perspective, one of the most important journalistic pieces to come out of the protests,” the panel of judges said of the multimedia story.

Stand News was awarded the best Explanatory Chinese Feature Writing for its micro analysis of the clash between police and protesters on June 12, 2019. The clash is considered a watershed of the anti-extradition bill movement. In recommending this article, the judge panel said: “This montage of facts goes beyond a reconstruction of the important day. It tells the inevitability and accidentality of history.”

View the full list of winners and runners-up here

Now in the 24th year, the HRPA is Asia’s most prestigious celebration of journalism that raises awareness of human rights issues and shines a light on threats to freedom.

There were a record 488 submissions in all formats, driven by a big jump in the number of photographic entries, which more than doubled in the past year.

The winning entries included The Guardian’s on-the-ground video coverage from Kashmir and a BBC documentary, “Inside China’s Camps”, providing a powerful account of the situation in Xinjiang, where journalists’ work is often impeded by authorities.

Reports on overcrowding in Philippine jails, India’s citizenship drive in Assam and an interview with the wife of Chinese rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong were among the winners and runners-up in 22 categories.

A team of nine reporters from the Wall Street Journal won the Breaking News Writing award for what the judges called their “comprehensive and sweeping narrative” of the events of October 1 in the Hong Kong protests.

The Chinese-language winners also featured dynamic storytelling from the most dramatic moments of the protests.

RTHK’s radio report on “The Exodus from Polytechnic University” took the Audio prize and Stand News won the Breaking News Writing award for its account of the Yuen Long mob attack.

The People’s Choice Award received an astounding 47,451 online votes, with the public choosing their favorite photo from a selection of six outstanding images. The winning shot, by Lai Chun Kit for Ming Pao, showed a protester using a mattress from a dormitory to shield himself during clashes with police at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

HRPA is organised by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong, Amnesty International Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Journalists Association.

The 2020 awards ceremony has been postponed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. All the prize-winning photographs, including runners-up, will be displayed at the Hong Kong FCC and are open to public viewing.

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