HONG KONG, May 6, 2021 — In a year of a pandemic lockdowns, political upheaval in Hong Kong, and protests across the region, the winning entries in the Human Rights Press Awards (HRPA) showcase courage and originality of journalistic storytelling about human rights in Asia.
Radio Television Hong Kong won the Chinese-language documentary award for its investigation into the Yuen Long attack of July 2019, which saw an armed mob beat commuters and protesters inside a subway station. “Chasing the smallest clues, interrogating the powerful without fear or favor. An investigative reporting classic,” the judging panel said of the video entry by freelance producer Bao Choy and 5 other colleagues.
A deep dive by the BBC on “China’s ‘Tainted’ Cotton” won the English-language Multimedia award. The work illustrated the potential scale of forced labor involving hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang’s cotton industry. The judges said the entry, by journalists John Sudworth, Kathy Long, Wang Xiqing, Kathryn Westcott and James Percy adds to the BBC’s “brave, comprehensive and groundbreaking body of work on a subject that is of continuing, and crucial, international relevance.”
Now in the 25th 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 549 submissions in all formats, up by 12.5% compared to last year.
The winning entries included the “Fruits of Labor” by the Associated Press, which won the English-language Investigative Feature Writing award for “illustrating a clear link between the harrowing stories in the plantations to decisions by financiers and consumers, who can make a change.”
An account of the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in China, titled “‘End of the World:’ A Pandemic Begins in Wuhan” by Agence France-Presse won the English-language Breaking News Writing award. “The story of 2020, the public health story of a generation, told at great literal risk, global consequences,” the panel of judges said of the story.
Reports on the Indian government’s targeting of its sizeable Muslim minority won awards in the Explanatory Feature Writing and Short Video categories. Reports on how India’s caste system exacerbates the socioeconomic effects of pandemic lockdowns, Afghanistan’s female police officers, China’s growing intolerance, and Hong Kong’s “invisible red lines” were among other award-winning entries.
The Chinese-language winners also chronicled Beijing’s crackdown on Hong Kong following the 2019 protests, including the imposition of a new national security law.
A report by Deutsche Welle on two protesters who were shot by the police took the Short Video prize, while a comprehensive report by Initium Media on the thousands of people arrested and charged in connection with the Hong Kong protests took the Multimedia prize.
An investigation by Apple Daily, which used flight-tracking data to question the Hong Kong government’s account that it was unaware of a group of activists seeking to flee to Taiwan by speedboat, took the Investigative Feature Writing award. A report by Mirror Media, drawing on what judges praised as deep and probing interviews with Hong Kong protesters on their reactions to the crackdown, won the Explanatory Feature writing award.
The People’s Choice Award received 21,723 online votes, with the public choosing their favorite photo from a selection of six outstanding images. The winning shot, “ Little Brother and Little Sister” by Fung Hoi Kin of Ming Pao, showed two underage siblings being detained by riot police during a protest.
HRPA is organised by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Hong Kong, Amnesty International Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Journalists Association.
There will not be a 2021 awards ceremony as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 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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