Founder of ThisFlag movement and cleric, Pastor Evan Mawarire is one of the four finalists vying for the prestigious 2017 Index on Censorship, Freedom of Expression Award.
A pre announcement statement released on Tuesday said Mawarire has been nominated in the Digital Activism category and will battle out with Behrouz Boochani, an Iranian Kurdish journalist who documents the life of indefinitely-interned Australian asylum seekers in Papua New Guinea; China’s Wang Liming, better known as Rebel Pepper, a political cartoonist who lampoons the country’s leaders; Ildar Dadin, an imprisoned Russian opposition activist, who became the first person convicted under the country’s public assembly law Daptar, a Dagestani initiative tackling women’s issues like female genital mutilation that are rarely discussed publicly in the country; and Serbia’s Crime and Corruption Reporting Network (KRIK), which was founded by a group of journalists to combat pervasive corruption and organised crime.
According to Index on Censorship, the shortlist celebrates artists, writers, journalists and campaigners overcoming censorship and fighting for freedom of expression against immense obstacles.
“Shortlisted nominees are regularly targeted by authorities or by criminal and extremist groups for their work: some face regular death threats, others criminal prosecution or exile,” noted the organisation.
Mawarire whose bravery in challenging the Mugabe regime for its failures through a campaign dubbed #ThisFlag sparked a wave of protests and stay-aways in the country. Following his arrest and a series of death threats against his family, Mawarire left the country for United States of America and recently returned into the country and was arrested upon his arrival back home at Harare International Airport.
Winners will be announced at a gala ceremony in London on 19 April 2017 and will become Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards fellows. Index on Censorship support their work, including training in areas such as advocacy and communications.
Past winners include education campaigner Malala Yousafzai (2013), assassinated Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya (2002) and anonymous Chinese anti-firewall activists GreatFire.org (206).
Index on Censorship is a UK-based non-profit organisation that publishes work by censored writers and artists and campaigns against censorship worldwide.