Boosting the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize as a strong sign of support for journalists under increasing pressure and attack, world leaders praised Rappler chief executive officer Maria Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov for winning this year’s prize for their efforts to defend press freedom and speak truth to power.
Ressa and Muratov, the Nobel Prize committee said, were awarded “for their courageous fight for freedom of expression” in the Philippines and Russia and for their “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace."
Ressa is the first Filipino individual to win the award, while Muratov is the first Russian to win the peace prize since Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990.
On Friday night, October 8, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres congratulated Ressa and Muratov as he underscored that this year’s recognition is a reminder that “no society can be free without journalists who can investigate wrongdoing and speak truth to power.”
“Press freedom is vital for peace, justice, and human rights,” Guterres said.
Read the statements of other world leaders below:
On Friday, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borell Fontelles, EU Council President Charles Michel, and EU’s diplomatic service all recognized Ressa and Muratov.
The EU External Action Service likewise condemned “all attacks against the media and journalists” and vowed to continue safeguarding press freedom.
German Ambassador to the Philippines Reiffenstuel congratulated Ressa, saying the award highlighted the role of the press worlds and “how relevant the world of courageous journalists is for peace.”
The French embassy in Manila issued the following statement on Friday night:
The Embassy of France welcomes the awarding of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa, the first laureate from the Philippines.
The attribution of the Nobel Peace Prize this year to journalists reaffirms the importance of the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression, which are essential pillars of peace and democracy. Moreover, it underscores the need to ensure the safety of media workers all over the world.
Maria Ressa's consistent participation in the Paris Peace Forum since 2018 is a reflection of her efforts and dedication to these shared goals and values.
Former US state secretary Hillary Clinton and US Ambassador to Cambodia Patrick Murphy both praised Ressa and her courage in holding the powerful to account.
Former US president Barack Obama, meanwhile, called the award for Ressa and Muratov "a tribute to their extraordinary courage and the enduring value of fact-based journalism and freedom of expression, which is under threat in far too many places today."
On Friday, Chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said Ressa and Muratov were “representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions.”
Ressa has been the target of attacks for her media organization's critical coverage of President Rodrigo Duterte's administration and a key leader in the global fight against disinformation.
Muratov is one of the founders and the editor-in-chief of the independent newspaper Novaja Gazeta, which the committee called “the most independent newspaper in Russia," publishing critical articles on "corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud and 'troll factories,' to the use of Russian military forces both within and outside Russia."
The prize is the first Nobel Peace Prize for journalists since 1935, when German journalist Carl von Ossietzky won for revealing his country's secret post-war rearmament program. – Rappler.com