Open Letter

Pressmen Held a Joint Forum for Freedom of Press

Written by Ibrahim Ahmed

Journalists from Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine Held a Joint Forum for Improvement of Freedom of the Press

On 4 May, a joint forum on “The Freedom and Responsibility of the Press for a Just and Peaceful Society” was held with journalists from Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine by an international NGO under the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) called Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL).

This forum celebrating the ‘World Press Freedom Day’, May 3rd, designated by the UN aimed to discuss the role of the press in both protecting freedom of expression and promoting the public awareness of peace.

The participants shared the level of the freedom of expression and the responsibility of the press in each country. The head of Kazakhstan editors club in the forum said, ”Freedom is like air. It always has to be. But if there are too much freedom, we, the journalists, might be lose our responsibility.”

Mr. Fedorov Petr, the director of international affairs at the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (vgtrk) in Russia, commented, “It’s important not only how the media works but also how free the information space within the country is. Russia has 2,300 broadcasting channels, 80% of which are private broadcasting ones, and about 600 are foreign broadcasting ones. The freedom of access to information is as important as the freedom of the founding reporter of information.”

The mutual relationship between the role of the press and building a just and peaceful society was also discussed. Igor Shevyryov, a journalist from Ivestia, Ukraine, who has been carrying our journalists’ cooperation for peacebuilding, highlighted that journalists should communicate with each other for understanding, rather than engaging themselves in international conflicts. ”Evil causes more evil,” said other Ukraine participants to explain the role of media that ”should have communication with each other.” Kazakhstani particiants also added, ”Journalism should not be dividing, but should be uniting.”

The cooperation between media and NGOs for peace as an example of the positive role of media was introduced. Peace campaigns including seminars, forums, and peace walks by the local citizens in areas of conflict were operated by HWPL, when its association network with international media covered the 40 years of conflict and the need for global attention for peace in Mindanao, the Philippines. Vasily Nikulenkov, an editor of “The Newman in Foreign Policy”, a magazine in Russia, who participated in the forum, mentioned, “HWPL makes an effort to cease war and carious conflicts and work for peace with youth, women’s groups and media organizations for agreement on cessation of the war at the UN. This part is respectful. We educate for many students as examples of voluntary civil society activities.”

HWPL is working with about 130 public ambassadors of the press to form public opinion for creating a culture of peace designated in the UN resolutions. As a part of HWPL’s media forums, ‘Voice of Press’, an online conference, has been held five times in Ukraine, three times in Kazakhstan, once in Sweden, once in Crimea of Russia, once in Algeria. The participants of these forums agreed that the significant role of the press is to motivate people to acknowledge the importance of peace and to introduce the peace activities in solving the matters of the society.

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