Jenan Moussa wins Shifa Gardi International Award for her Middle East reporting

shifagardiawardJournalist Jenan Moussa wins the Shifa Gardi International Award for journalism while in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, on February 25, 2019. Photo: Rudaw TV

Journalist Jenan Moussa wins the Shifa Gardi International Award for journalism while in Erbil, Kurdistan Region, on February 25, 2019. Photo: Rudaw TV

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Shifa Gardi International Award went to journalist Jenna Moussa during a ceremony in the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil for her reporting on the ground across Iraq, Syria, the Middle East and North Africa.

“Shifa was of course brave. She could have stayed at home. She could have stayed in the studio. Nobody forced her to do this dangerous job. But she did. She reported from a warzone and paid the ultimate price,” said Moussa of the award’s namesake.

Through the award, Shifa’s name will endure forever.

“And with this award I also hope that Shifa’s name will live on forever in the world. Through my work. Through my stories. Through my reporting,” said Moussa.

How did #Lebanese #journalist @JenanMoussa react to winning the #ShifaGardiAward from a #Kurdish media network? pic.twitter.com/2shjFuulQ0

— Rudaw English (@RudawEnglish) February 26, 2019
She said dealing with death and danger in a warzone is not easy.

“And always in the back of your mind: Maybe this is my last day, my last hour, my last minute,” Moussa explained.

Moussa touched on what Gardi meant to the people she reported for.

“But she will always live on. She will always live on to her family, to her friends and to the Kurdish people who have played a huge role in defeating ISIS,” explained Moussa.

Former French President Francois Hollande delivered the keynote speech. He arrived in Erbil early on Sunday, and then toured war-torn Mosul.

Rudaw journalist and news anchor Shifa Gardi died on February 25, 2017 while on duty as a reporter in Mosul.

A short documentary about the late Kurdish journalist Shifa Gardi who died covering the ISIS conflict in Mosul on February 25, 2017. Video producer: Ayub Nuri | RudawPrior the event, officials spoke about the impact of Gardi life and work in journalism in Kurdistan.

“We are pleased to see that holding this ceremony in the presence of these elites including the former president of France upon the invitation of our government, parliament and our peolpe,” Fazil Mirani, thehead of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) politburo, told Rudaw.

“With their blood, our martyrs keep the name of Kurdistan up,” Mirani added.

Second deputy speaker of Iraqi parliament Bashir Haddad called Shifa “a symbol of Kurdish and international journalism.”

Mahmoud Mohammed, KDP spokesperson: “Gardi was keen to relay the truth to the people and make the people of Kurdistan aware of deep details.”

Rudaw has established the Shifa Gardi International Award in her honor and as a tribute to all journalists who have died in the line of duty.

Members of the Shifa Gardi International Award Committee are professional journalists who have greatly contributed to journalism in their own fields and deeply value the work of war reporters.

Rudaw Media Network CEO Ako Mohammed welcomes attendees
On behalf of Rudaw Media Network, I welcome you all to the Shifa Gardi Award ceremony. We are honored to have you here.
We highly appreciate the attendance of Mr. Francois Hollande. He was the man who courageously declared an active participation of France in the international coalition against ISIS and came to the defense of freedom. Also, the people of Kurdistan saw him as the first president who along with President Masoud Barzani on the Peshmerga frontlines against ISIS. Your decision to join the war against ISIS was right and accurate, the same as the targeting skills of the French pilots who bombed ISIS.
Ladies and Gentlemen, One week after the death of Shifa Gardi, Rudaw’s management board took the decision to establish an award in her honor for journalists who face danger and hostilities while reporting news and information. We are very pleased that this award is handed out in your presence. And we are happy that this award will go to brave journalists like Shifa Gardi. Support for freedom of the press was one of Shifa’s solid principles and it is now the duty to Rudaw Media Network to support her colleagues across the world.

Our idea back then was for this award to become an annual event and should go to any journalist anywhere in the world, but that the ceremony should take place here in the Kurdistan Region. In fact more journalists were killed under ISIS than in any other time in our century. We do hope that war and conflict come to an end in the Middle East and across the world and that next year’s award goes to investigative environmental journalism.

Rudaw CEO Ako MohammedIf you take a look at the walls around you, you will see portraits and photos of many of our colleagues who are no longer with us. They all came from different parts of the world and had one thing in common: conveying the news from where it was taking place. They went to the site of many ISIS crimes against innocent civilians. When we think about their mission and look at their cameras, computers and notebooks, we can only be sure that they came to tell the facts and they died for it.
Some international put the number of journalists killed during the ISIS war at 85 journalists. But domestic numbers put the figure a lot higher. ISIS was the enemy of freedoms and therefore he was the enemy of journalists and they often showed their hatred of journalists by publicly beheading them.
We hope this award becomes a memorial to all journalists killed during the ISIS conflict, and that’s why we ask all international organizations, the anti-ISIS coalition as well as regional and international press groups to take ownership of this award.
We have here with two French colleagues from France 2 and I believe they would agree with me that we should always remember those difficult days and the Shifa Gardi award would be good reminder of those times. They too lost their colleague TV correspondent Veronique Robert in Mosul. We have at this ceremony many other journalists who have lost close friends, colleagues and even family to their journalism. The Shifa Gardi award can in the future become an opportunity to seriously talk about how to protect war reporters. We will do all we can to joint efforts and make the Shifa Gardi award a major support for the freedom and protection of journalists in the world.
Distinguished guests, The outpouring of love for Shifa Gardi by people from every corner of Kurdistan in the time of her death imprinted her name in the nation’s memory. And internationally a quick search of her name in google and the hundreds of thousands of page results is proof of her status as a respected journalist.
Unfortunately journalists still get killed. And the hostility of radical groups against journalists continues. In the meantime as the world eagerly awaits the end of ISIS in Syria the families of those still missing are keeping a keen eye on al-Baghouz and other areas where ISIS is still in control. And for us Rudaw Media Network it is personal. Because December 15, 2014 our reporter Farhad Hamo was kidnapped by ISIS in Hasakah, Syria by ISIS and his fate still remains unknown.
So with our deepest respect for all journalists and war reporters in particular, allow me ladies and gentlemen to congratulate the winner of the 2019 Shifa Gardi Award. Ms Jenan Moussa, whose courage as a female journalist in some of the most hostile regions has won her the respect of all journalists. So once, again congratulations and well-deserved!
The Shifa Gardi trophy is the symbol of the courage of all journalists killed during the ISIS war. It is the symbol of journalists who work tirelessly for humanitarian purposes or so we all have peace and freedom in the world. Your presence here today is your support for this award.
Thank you very much.
The full speech given by Francois Hollande, former president of France:

When Daesh neared Erbil, I was in there. It was very necessary to make an international decision in favor of supporting Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. In 2014, we as France expressed our full support for Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in order to conduct a rapid response to Daesh attacks.

Francois Hollande, former president of France

I revisited Erbil in 2017 when the Peshmerga had pushed back Daesh. The situation was very dire. I visited frontlines along with President Barzani and we looked at Mosul from a kilometre distance. We saw the shelling of the city. I came back today, this time, to the heart of Mosul – a liberated yet completely destroyed city. Most of western Mosul is devastated. A large number of important archeological places have been destroyed. Therefore, today we reiterate that the international coalition against Daesh has to continue in order for the reconstruction of Iraq, particularly Mosul. UNESCO will have many campaigns for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of buildings and the archeological places which were destroyed by Daesh. I thank President Barzani for his role and the Peshmerga for their hard work in fighting Daesh. We worked together with the Peshmerga, Iraqi forces, and the coalition. Today, we are delighted to see Daesh defeated. However, there should always be a fear of the resurrection of this terrorist organization under another name, group, and organization.

US President Donald Trump’s decision about the withdrawal of their troops in Syria in this way is hasty. It will have a bad impact. I am sure that this decision of Donald Trump is a very big mistake. At the same time, I am concerned about the current conflict in Syria. Turkey has become a threat to Syrian Kurds. Daesh may exploit any conflict there by carrying out suicide attacks and explosions. Therefore, we have to be very careful. We cannot say that Daesh has ended and we have defeated it. It continues to be a threat and may reemerge at any time. It is a characteristic of the Middle East that terrorist groups reemerge.

We all have to coordinate not only to overcome the war but also to bring out peace and stability. The first decision that shall be made is the reconstruction of liberated areas and institutions. We have to try to let people live in stability and peace and they should be able to own their own decisions in the community.


The full speech made by Managing Director at ENEX Adrian Wells:

It is an a real honour to follow Former President who’s term in office ran through one of the most intense and destructive periods of Middle East history and who spent many hours with other world leaders wrestling with many difficult decisions during the crisis in Iraq and Syria.

For us, as journalists, the decisions we have to make are, on the whole, smaller than the ones made by Presidents. But they are, nonetheless, important. What stories we cover, how we choose to cover them and the sometimes perilous decisions of teams on the ground and managers in newsrooms back at base about how to support their journalists in the field.

For international journalists covering the conflict in this region there’s usually a personal choice whether to not come or to cover a different story. Certainly, there are some safer ones to choose from. But for Shifa, as we have heard, this wasn’t a distant war but one right on the doorstep of her home. This, no doubt, inspired her to leave the comfort of the TV studio and find out the real truth of what was happening on the ground. She charted the humanitarian distress of thousands and the brave action of Peshmerga fighters pushing back ISIS forces from their strongholds.

Most commonly, when journalists are asked what is their role in reporting conflict? you will probably be told of the importance to bear witness to events so that the wider world can be informed and perhaps take actions. In this conflict there has been some truly excellent reporting, not least from the Rudaw network whose tireless reporters, cameramen, satellite engineers and managers ensured that the outside world could bear witness in real-time to the events of this region. Shifa, of course, was a standard bearer for Rudaw and her profession as a journalist.

Adrian Wells of ENEX

So in judging this award, in her name, we were looking to honour several important things: the bravery to report and bear witness, passionate and skillful storytelling and those qualities from a female front-line journalist. Well, the winner of this award, like Shifa, has all those qualities in bucket loads. Her reporting has taken her across the Middle East, from Lybia’s Benghazi, as Gadaffi’s forces retreated and then fell, to ISIS controlled territory in Iraq and then onto Syria. As Peshmerga forces advanced, she reported from the key battle-lines in Kobani, Al Raqqa and Aleppo.

In our judging panel, who all know themselves the intensity required to report Iraq and Syria, there was particular pride that a young, female, Arabic voice was chosen as the first recipient of this award.

The panel were particularly impressed with the winner’s straightforward and truthful approach to her subject and commitment to return again and again to report these extraordinary events.

The judging panel is delighted to announce that the winner of the first Shifa Gardi Memorial Award goes to Jenan Moussa of the Al An network.

His Excellency, Francois Hollande will be called upon to give the award and we invite Jenan to come up to receive the it.