Per Liljas, a freelance Swedish journalist, has been awarded the Minority Voices Young Journalist Award for 2010. The award is made by the London-based international human rights organisation Minority Rights Group International.
Liljas was awarded the top prize for an article and photo story on Rohingya who are refugees in Bangladesh, but originally come from Burma where they belong to a Muslim minority. The story captures the human interest element of a serious minority rights issue in Asia and was first published in Upsala Nya Tidning on 20 June 2010. Liljas’ article explains the background to the Rohingya refugee situation, while describing their precarious existence in exile.
The three-member panel of judges described Liljas’ work as ‘outstanding, brilliant and a cut above the rest’.
Liljas will receive his award in London in June 2011. The prize is a trip paid for by MRG to research and write on issues facing an indigenous or minority community in the global south.
Liljas contributes to several prominent Swedish media outlets, including major national newspapers such as Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet and Aftonbladet, as well as respected regional newspapers including Upsala Nya Tidning and Östgöta-Correspondenten. He also writes for European and Asian newspapers.
The judges named the following applicants as the top five runners-up:
- Nalina Eggert, who wrote on young Bolivian female domestic workers, many of whom are from indigenous communities.
- Christina Felschen, who entered a feature titled ‘The grass-roots revolution,’ which highlights how the internet age has opened new options for children from indigenous communities across the world.
- Polly Fields, who presented an article titled ‘Street-racing queen of Ramallah’ – a story about a young Palestinian race car driver.
- Stephen Mangan , who wrote about human rights activists in the Moroccan-controlled areas of Western Sahara.
- Roman Stanek, who submitted an article on ritual murders of the Albino community in Tanzania.
The judges said all of the entries were of good quality but particularly commended these top five along with the winner for the quality of their work.
‘It was an excellent and competitive competition which unearthed a huge amount of talent that made the search for the overall winner a challenging task,’ said Dr. Ndana Ndana, a senior academic and chairperson of RETENG : The Multi-Cultural Coalition of Botswana.
MRG announced this award late last year and the deadline for entries was 31 December 2010. The aim of the award was to seek out young professional and/or student journalists who are interested in writing on issues affecting minority and indigenous communities in developing countries, and support them to cover these issues in European and international media.
The following formed the committee of judges:
- Lekha Klouda, an expert in the development and charity sector in the UK and a member of MRG’s Council.
- Dr. Ndana Ndana, senior lecturer at University of Botswana and Chairperson of RETENG.
- Jerome Taylor, journalist with the Independent newspaper, UK.
The Minority Voices Young Journalist Award is part of an EU-funded three-year programme called Minority Voices. The programme aims to increase European media coverage on issues facing minorities and indigenous peoples in developing countries.
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental organisation working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide.