Sunday, November 16, 2008

More on Sami al-Hajj & The Association of International Broadcasters

photo from Yahoo! News from Oct 30 2008 announcing: Ex-Guantanamo inmate to lead Al-Jazeera rights watchdog …

(Sami al-Hajj may be more accurately tranliterated as Sami El Hajj and there are other titles used in some documents, articles) Sometimes there is just one j used as in Haj.

The blogger here at One Heart for Peace will continue to add more related items to this post...

Jazeera’s al-Hajj honoured -- Publish Date: Saturday,15 November, 2008, at 12:23 PM Doha Time

AL JAZEERA’S Sami al-Hajj has received a special award from the Association of International Broadcasters. The award was presented at the fourth Annual AIB Media Excellence Awards ceremony held on Wednesday. It was given in recognition of his work and the courage he showed while he was held at the US-run Guantanamo military prison. Al-Haj was recently released from Guantanamo Bay after six-and-a-half years of detention. Al-Haj, who now heads the recently launched Al Jazeera Public Liberties and Human Rights Desk, thanked AIB for the honour.

“While I could not attend the awards in person I am grateful to the AIB for my award,” he said, “My journey at Guantanamo was an extremely difficult one and I am thankful for all the support I have received from institutions, organisations, and individuals across the world. This award is certainly appreciated.”

Wadah Khanfar, director general of the Al Jazeera Network, had high praise for al-Haj. “Ground-breaking journalism many times comes at a heavy human cost. Our colleague al-Haj is an example of someone who has endured this hardship and we are very pleased that the AIB has recognised him by this award,” Khanfar said,“As someone who has experienced these hardships first-hand, al-Haj will lead efforts to provide a platform to foster a dialogue on the media’s role in advancing human rights via his new post as the head of Al Jazeera’s Public Liberties and Human Rights Desk,” he added.

Al Jazeera English also was “highly commended” in two categories. Its reporting on the Myanmar cyclone was commended for the “clearest coverage of a single news event”. The channel’s Melanie Woelzemueller and Bushra Johnson were recognised in the ‘most innovative use of graphics’ category for their creative work in coverage of the Iran nuclear issue.

You will be inspired and challenges if you read the full INTERVIEW with Sami al-Hajj, former Guantánamo prisoner and al-Jazeera journalist from July 2008 (Interviewer: Silvia Cattori, in Switzerland) posted below and also on Andy Worthington's

here are some EXCERPTS from this interview:

"...when I left Guantánamo, two months ago, I was in a very bad way. (I was interrogated and tortured more than two hundred times...They never called me by my name, just “three, four, five”, my prison number. Towards the end they called me “al-Jazeera”. Only the (International) Red Cross officials called me by my name.) But now I feel better, discovering that people outside are fighting and not losing sight of the main goal — achieving peace and freedom for everyone...

Many people have lost their lives because of this war. You must know that the Bush administration wanted to prevent coverage by the free media, like al- Jazeera, in the Middle East. The al-Jazeera offices in Kabul and Baghdad were bombed...I want to fight for the cause of human rights, for those who have been deprived of their freedom. I do not want to fight alone...Now, after all these years in captivity, I can once again do something to help bring about peace. I am going to commit myself to this goal, until it is achieved. I am sure that one day, even if I do not personally reap the fruits, we will succeed in achieving peace and the respect of human rights...

Silvia Cattori: Today, can you find it within yourself to pardon your torturers? Sami al-Hajj: Of course I will pardon them if they close Guantánamo. But if they continue to cause suffering, I will go to the courts and take action against them. Although I know that the Bush administration has done so much harm, I still think that it’s not too late for these people to make up for their mistakes. A distinction must be made between the administration and the people. The Guantánamo detainees know that they have friends in America...

I ask all journalists to cooperate with us in this. There were more than 50 nationalities in Guantánamo — it is a worldwide issue, and not just about individual detainees. It is shameful that in our society, innocent people who have been sold find themselves locked in cages. Human rights and security are inseparable — there can be no security without the respect of fundamental rights."

Silvia Cattori (interviewer): You are right to call on decent people and journalists not to accept the violation of international laws and the cruel and degrading treatment of human beings. But this policy could not have lasted if it had not had the tacit support of the superpower governments — it was with their consent that those labelled “enemy combatants” were tortured. The Patriot Act, for example, passed after the 11th September in the US, was supported by all the European countries. It was within the framework of these secret agreements that CIA and FBI agents were able to kidnap and torture thousands of innocent men like you in Europe...
These excerpts are only a small part of a very inspiring interview found in full just below (or at archives, right column) at the post with heading:"Sami al-Hajj(Also known as Sami El-Hajj),former cameraman detained six years without trial at Guantanamo Bay, receives Special Award" and also at Andy Worthington's website related specifically to Sami al-Hajj
And in general
Here (go to the names in alphabetical index for Sami al-Hajj)

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