A new documentary, “Courage – Journalism is not a crime” by film director Tom Heinemann released on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day, with IMS support, highlights the plight of three journalists in three of the world’s most challenging countries for press freedom – Myanmar, Turkey and Azerbaijan. View the film on www.courage-documentary.dk
Lawi Weng from Myanmar, Emin Huseynov from Azerbaijan and Erdem Gül from Turkey are all devoted to journalism, but are under immense pressure from governments, companies and criminals due to their persistent investigative journalism to fight corruption and injustice. They reveal what those in power want to hide. They face jail, torture, maybe even death. But they continue their fight because critical, independent media is key to holding to account those in power and to providing citizens with information with which they can make informed decisions.
But making the film was no easy feat, explains film director Tom Heinemann in his Director’s Statement:
“Courage – Journalism is not a crime” is one of the most challenging projects I have ever worked with. How can you tell the story of three journalists without compromising their safety and ultimately risking their lives? And why pick these three instead of the hundreds of other journalists suffering as much?
“After meeting Lawi Weng from Myanmar, Emin Huseynov from Azerbaijan and Erdem Gül from Turkey, the decision was not difficult. These brave men have all faced the consequences of repressive regimes and dictatorships and the lack of freedom of expression.
“They have been unrightfully jailed, tortured, and convicted for what they truly believe in and for doing their job. As journalists, they have all decided not to stay silent. They deserve our biggest respect.
“In a fairly well functioning country like Denmark, freedom of the press is hardly an issue. Here, critical, investigative journalism is being awarded – not gagged and suppressed as we see in more and more countries, even inside the EU.
“We must all stand up for our colleagues and I am deeply grateful for the many interviews with some of the key players who are trying to improve, enlighten, and bring solutions to resist the many attacks on journalists and independent media. Without them, I might never have heard about Erdem Gül, Lawi Weng, and Emin Huseynov.
“My film is free for anyone who shares the idea that any country should respect the freedom of the press is a fundamental right. By collaborating with some of the leading organisations working for this, it is my sincere hope that the attention can pave the way for a better future for critical, investigative journalism. Not only for Emin Huseynov, Lawi Weng, and Erdem Gul – but for all of us.”