Burundian Journalist, Jean-Claude Kavumbagu Honored by NABJ
Monday, July 11, 2011
Posted by: Aprill Turner
Kavumbagu exemplifies the brave spirit all journalists should strive to embody
WASHINGTON, DC (JULY 11, 2011) -- The National Association of Black Journalists
(NABJ) announced Jean-Claude Kavumbagu, a Burundian internet journalist, will
receive the organization's 2011 Percy Qoboza Foreign Journalist Award. The
honor will be presented at the association's 36th Annual Convention and Career
Fair in Philadelphia, PA, the nation's largest annual gathering of minority
Kavumbagu, editor of
the online daily NetPress, has been arrested on multiple occasions for speaking
out about issues such as corruption in government. Kavumbagu was just released
in May after spending ten months in prison. Kavumbagu published a blog post after
a Ugandan attack by suicide bombers resulted in 74 deaths and 70 injuries. The
following day the published piece on his website criticized the ability of
Burundian forces to defend the country in the face of a similar attack.
He was arrested,
charged with treason, questioned without the presence of a lawyer, and
imprisoned. In Burundi, treason carries a maximum sentence of life
imprisonment. His arrest was denounced by a number of international human
rights organizations, including Amnesty International, and the Committee to
Protect Journalists. A number of journalism and press freedom
organizations called for the charges against Kavumbagu to be dropped.
In 2008, Kavumbagu was
also arrested following the publication of an article in which he alleged that
the cost of President Pierre Nkurunziza’s trip to see the Beijing Olympics (an
estimated 100 million Burundian francs) caused some civil servants’ salaries to
be paid late. Following a government statement that the trip had only cost half
of the alleged amount, Kavumbagu was charged with "libelous writing and
insulting remarks. He served six months.
detention of journalists is a violation of freedom of the press and the
international community must raise its voice to these injustices," said
NABJ President Kathy Y. Times. "In recognizing the bravery and courage of
Kavumbagu we are calling attention to the plight of many imprisoned journalists
across the world penalized for their journalism.”
The Percy Qoboza
Award, named for a South African journalist, is given to a foreign journalist
who has done extraordinary work while overcoming tremendous obstacles that
contributes to the enrichment, understanding or advancement of people or issues
in the African Diaspora.
"We share other
journalism organizations' relief that Jean-Claude Kavumbagu has been released.
However, we remain concerned about the state of journalism in Burundi,
particularly since other journalists feel they're working under threat of
arrest and imprisonment. NABJ calls on political and judicial leaders in
Burundi to ensure that journalists are allowed to freely practice their
profession in the country,” said John Yearwood, World Editor at the Miami
Herald and Co-chair of NABJ’s World Task Force. Yearwood chairs the task force
along with Dr. Djbrill Diallo.
Kavumbagu will be
honored on Thursday, August 4, 2011 at NABJ's Annual Convention and Career
Fair, which will take place August 3-7 in Philadelphia, PA. For additional
information, ticket sales, and registration, please visit here.