These are the winners of the Free Press Awards 2023

Winners Free Press Awards 2023

The winners of the Free Press Awards 2023 have been announced today, 31 October, during a special event at Nieuwspoort in The Hague. The winner of the Newcomer of the Year Award is Venezuelan journalist Holiancar Contreras. The Most Resilient Journalist Award has been presented to Kurdish journalist Dicle Müftüoğlu.

Every year, Free Press Unlimited honours two outstanding and brave journalists with the Newcomer of the Year Award and the Most Resilient Journalist Award. The 2023 winners of each award were announced during our live event today, during which we also released our Dutch Political Press Freedom Index in light of the House of Representatives elections 2023. 

Political Press Freedom Index

Most Resilient Journalist Award

This year the most resilient journalist award is being presented to a journalist that cannot be with us because she spends her time in jail: Dicle Müftüoğlu. Dicle is currently imprisoned at the Sincan Women's Prison in Ankara, Turkey. Her colleague's Aysel Avesta and Lydia Gottschalk were there to accept the award on her behalf. 

Apprehended by the authorities based on charges of extremism, simply because she and the news agency that she leads expose facts that the authorities prefer to hide. Moreover, the journalist union that Dicle founded defended the many incarcerated journalists in her country Turkey, especially when they are Kurds. She is now in jail herself and waiting for a trial. As a Kurdish woman journalist, Dicle has been facing judicial harassment for years. All over the world, journalists and media are subjected to growing judicial harassment. If media professionals, like Dicle, are unable to do their work without risking harm, they will be unable to provide reliable information to the public. This award comes with a cash prize of 10,000 euros, we sincerely hope this will serve Dicle's family and legal costs to get her out of jail.

We were honoured to receive a letter from Dicle, after receiving the nomination for the award.

Letter from Dicle Müftüoğlu


To Free Press Unlimited,

I have been nominated  for the "Most Resilient Journalist Award"  organized by Free Press Unlimited, alongside two esteemed colleagues from Nigeria and Ecuador. I am deeply honored to have received this nomination. 

Working as a journalist in a country like Turkey, where the freedom of press and freedom of expression are severely oppressed, requires resistance. The path followed without this resilience and dedication, otherwise, would be a path dictated by the government or being a mouthpiece of the ones in power. My nomination from Turkey is, naturally, a reflection of my Kurdish identity and my role as an executor and a representative of the Free Press tradition. Kurdish journalists, resisting both in Turkey and Kurdistan, are putting their lives and freedoms in line to bring the truth to the public. For more than three decades, Kurdish journalists have persistently pursued their profession despite numerous obstacles. I, too, am a journalist who is shaped by the values of the Free Press ecole. I am aware that I am a candidate for this award alongside all the journalists who are unwavering in their dedication to the pursuit of truth. I would like to express my gratitude to the jury for acknowledging our struggle. 

The truth will not remain concealed! Free press cannot be silenced!

Co-Chair of Dicle Firat Journalists Association (DFG) 
Editor in Mesopotamia News Agency (MA)

Sincan Women's Prison / Ankara

Dicle Müftüoğlu


Newcomer of the Year Award

The winner of the Newcomer of the Year - Hans Verploeg Award, and a Scholarship of 1500 euros, is journalist Holiancar Contreras. Holiancar's colleague Ayrton Monsalve was present to accept the award on her behalf. 

Holiancar currently operates in Táchira, a state in Venezuela bordering Colombia, with one of the biggest migratory fluxes. The frontier currently suffers from de facto control of various criminal groups who act in human trafficking, drug trafficking, and also extortion of locals. Holiancar writes about the experiences of those who live in this dangerous border area, and covers the difficulties people face with migrating to Colombia. The jury was shocked by the fact that she uncovered that migrants are forced to drink sulfurous water due to the fact that water canisters cost 100.000 Colombianos, 25 dollars, which no one can afford. By doing so, she gives visibility to the difficulties of the frontier inhabitants and sheds light in a truly media dark area that is absent from the world’s attention.

To support the future journalistic career of this very promising young journalist, Holiancar Contreras is awarded with the Newcomer of the Year Award of 2023.

Holiancar Contreras


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