The Fighters – read their stories

Our partners have incredible stories to tell, and fantastic track records within their expertise. We are interviewing a number of these “fighters” to highlight the brave and excellent work they do. Enjoy the reading!

Gustavo Gorriti: “Democracy in the world is in the greatest process of crisis since the 1930:s”

Interview of Gustavo Gorriti, Peruvian investigative journalist who has investigated terrorism, drug trafficking, political and economic corruption: “My life has been in danger several times”. Gorriti is the director of IDL-Reporteros: “Investigative journalism is a lot of work, very arid, but if you decide to do it, and you cross the river, there’s no turning back and you have to strive for the highest standards”. [Castellano]

Rawan Damen: “Our journalists suffer reprisals all the time”

Interview of Rawan Damen, Director General of Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism (ARIJ). In three years she has doubled the team and the budget of the foundation and opened two platforms, for fact checkers and whistleblowers: “Investigations do not stop when there’s no access to information and suppression of freedom of expression – on the contrary – the exposure of the wrong doing is more important when it is really difficult.”

Ruslan Myatiev: “We report about things no one in Turkmenistan dares to tell”

Interview of Ruslan Myatiev, founder and director of the independent news outlet Turkmen.News: “Media in Turkmenistan is under full control of the government”, he says. Three Turkmen.News reporters have spent time in prison and the rest of the reporters and sources inside the country are at great risk: “Sometimes we lack audio-visual materials, but that’s a safety issue: even if we get photos from scene, we can’t publish them right away because there are security cameras everywhere. The police could easily identify our sources and cause trouble for them”.

Ezequiel Barrera: “They tapped my phone nine times”

Interview of Ezequiel Barrera, co-founder and editor-in-chief of the independent digital media GatoEncerrado in El Salvador. At least three journalists from his newsroom discovered in September 2021 that their mobile phones had been infected with the Pegasus software: “There are reasons that make us quite certain that the government of El Salvador is behind it. They are also using government institutions to prosecute journalists and we receive waves of attacks, especially against our female journalists, on social networks”, says Ezequiel. [Castellano]

Nora Younis: “We always expect the police to come back to our office”

Interview of Nora Younis, the executive director at the Egyptian Al Manassa, a miracle of independent journalism in one of the world’s most repressive countries. Their office was raided in 2020 and Nora was arrested and later released on bail: “The charges against me were never dismissed. They still stand but the case was never moved to court, yet. This is a way of keeping human rights defenders in limbo or gray areas. We always expect the police to come back, because as far as we know, nothing has changed. Our reporting is still the same and the repression in Egypt is still the same”, says Nora.

Samuel Ogundipe: “It’s very rare in Nigeria to find a journalist that does not take bribes”

Interview of Samuel Ogundipe, a Nigerian investigative journalist, founder of the independent media outlet Peoples Gazette. For Samuel, journalism is a way to fight corruption and injustice: “We are not entrenched in the Nigerian political and economic circle, so we are able to be independent, we don’t have the kind of tentacles that all these other newspaper publishers have. What makes Peoples Gazette different is that we are able to do any story about anybody. If you are corrupt, if you are into injustice, we will expose you”.

Liam Rivkin: “We are the only trans* initiative in the post-Soviet space”

Interview of Liam Rivkin, information coordinator at Trans* Coalition, a feminist initiative advocating for the depathologization of transgender people and the decriminalization of sex work. Trans* Coalition acts in the post-Soviet space, where “trans* people are persecuted by the same forces as LGBT people: the state, law enforcement agencies, ultra-right groups, religious figures openly expressing homophobia and trans phobia, individual politicians and deputies”.

John Githongo: “We are in a global democratic recession”

Interview of John Githongo, Kenyan journalist, activist and thinker against corruption. He has been close enough to power to reveal the dishonesty of the elite, who later organized a plot to assassinate him. He says: “The most insidious impact of corruption in society is not the money that is lost but the trust it undermines among people in their leaders, institutions, politics and sometimes even among themselves”.

Arzu Geybulla: “They call me traitor because I advocate for democratic reforms in Azerbaijan”

Interview of Arzu Geybulla, freelance journalist and columnist working for human rights and freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. This has resulted in her being called a traitor and she has suffered a long campaign of online harassment for her work. She says: “I still believe in peace and reconciliation. I believe in fair reporting. I’m no traitor. I never was. And I will keep holding my values above anything else”.

Cristina Palabay: “I experience death and rape threats on a daily basis”

Interview of Cristina Palabay, Secretary General of Karapatan, a national alliance of human rights organizations and individuals working for the promotion and protection of human rights in the Philippines. She says: “In the past four years, 13 Karapatan human rights workers have been killed. None of the 13 cases has been solved, not even prosecuted”.

Orus Villacorta: “The president of El Salvador responds to our questions with mockery”

Interview of Orus Villacorta, journalist and codirector of Revista Factum, an investigative online magazine that reports corruption and malpractice from the part of officials who control the government in El Salvador. He says: “In our country anti-democratic practices routinely undermine the rule of law and there’s corruption, social violence, extreme poverty, organized crime, inequality and lack of transparency”. [Castellano]

Tor Madira: “Government officials kill at will, embezzle public funds at will”

Interview of Tor Madira, journalist and co-founder of Sudans Post, an investigative media outlet that reports political corruption and malpractice by most senior government officials in Sudan and South Sudan. He says: “Citizens always have a role to play in a society and I choose to take the role of journalism despite the risk because I believe that every effort in the interest of the society and the innocent citizen has what it takes to achieve”.

Rinat Tuhvatshin: “When corruption becomes too difficult and risky, we will win!”

Interview of Rinat Tuhvatshin, journalist and co-founder of Kloop Media Foundation, an investigative news outlet and youth school of journalism from Kyrgyzstan, a country in Central Asia where corruption is present at all levels of society. He says: “We have chosen to focus on corruption and human rights because it literally kills people and we think it is the most important topic to cover”

Diana Salinas: “Those who want to do investigative journalism have to leave fear at home”

Interview of Diana Salinas, co-founder of “Cuestión Pública”, one of the few digital media in Colombia that dares to practice investigative and counter-power journalism. Diana has won many prizes and also risked her life with her investigations. All because, she says: “I love to put my finger on the score spot, to irritate with the truth”. [Castellano]

Vi Tran: “We are trying to help people that want political pluralism in Vietnam”

Interview of Vi Tran, lawyer and activist that advocates for a democratic movement in Vietnam. Co-founder of the independent magazine Luat Khoa and the newspaper The Vietnamese, that are blocked in Vietnam. Her mission is “to speak for those that can’t”.

Albertine Watchdog: “In case our identities were discovered, the risks include assassinations”

Interview of Albertine Watchdog, an anonymous group of environmental activists fighting against the oil and gas exploration in the Lake Albert region (Uganda) and its consequences on the population. Additionally, the group provides training to activists that fight against human rights abuse and environmental degradation as a result of the oil and gas exploration. Tens of thousands of people and more than 500 species of animals, including some threatened, are affected.

Uvindu Kurukulasuriya – Going into exile is a big decision

Interview of Uvindu Kurukulasuriya, founder of Colombo Telegraph. Exiled to London in 2009. Colombo Telegraph is one of the most read news websites in Sri Lanka, with thousands of people writing their opinions and one million visitors per month: “We have a lot to do to make Sri Lanka better”.

Khalid Ibrahim – Human rights defenders are treated like criminals in MENA region

Interview of Khalid Ibrahim, co-founder of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, an independent non profit that operates in MENA region, a risky place for human rights defenders. His closest colleagues are in prison and the situation is only getting worse, specially for women that defend human rights.

Ronalyn V. Olea – The tyrants in cyberspace are shutting down critical and independent voices

Interview of Ronalyn V. Olea, managing editor of Bulatlat, Philippines’ top alternative online news site. Bulatlat has been labeled as “enemy of the state” by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and cyber attacked with hard Distributed Denial of Service attacks during three months. Ronalyn talks about it without fear.

Ganimat Zahid – Officials treat journalists as outcasts in Azerbaijan

Interview of Ganimat Zahid, editor-in-chief of the online newspaper and founder of Turan.TV, with 2 million viewers, the most popular TV show in Azerbaijan. Ganimat is listed by Reporters Without Borders as one of “100 Information Heroes” for his continuous effort to keep the Azerbaijani people informed.

Rafael Marques de Morais – for press freedom I have had to fight to free the Angolan people from fear

Interview of Rafael Marques de Morais, prominent political activist, winner of numerous journalistic prizes and awards, and founder of Maka Angola, a anti-corruption watchdog focusing on social injustice in Angola.

My.Kali brings hope to MENAs queer youths and challenges the narrative in the region

Interview of Khalid “Kali” Abdel-Hadi, founder of My.Kali, one of the first queer magazines in the MENA region.