In many nations democracy is at great risk, as are the freedoms that so many have made sacrifices to achieve, says Hernández
All the attendees in the World Conference Center Bonn, which used to house the lower house of federal German Parliament till 1999, were on their feet, and applauded to honour a brave female journalist, Anabel Hernández from Mexico.
The extraordinary standing ovation was accorded to her following an inspiring speech she delivered after receiving the Deutsche Welle (DW) Freedom of Speech Award at the recently-concluded DW Global Media Forum 2019 on May 27.
Hernández is the first woman to receive the Freedom of Speech Award since the DW introduced the recognition in 2015.
DW, the German public broadcaster, organized one of the biggest media event on May 27-28 in partnership with the German Federal Foreign Office, and others.
“Journalists live in the most violent time in recent history, thus affecting society's human right to be timely, and truthfully informed. Each journalist killed means repercussions on hundreds of people who remain silent in the face of violence,” said Hernández after accepting the prize from DW Director General Peter Limbourg for her outstanding commitment to freedom of expression, and her fight against corruption, cover-ups, and impunity in her home country.
“But why are they killing us? Why are they threatening us? Why are they imprisoning us? Why do they want to silence us?" she questioned.
More than 125 journalists have been murdered in Mexico in the last decade, while she lived under threat, Hernández said.
"And for all those, who day by day continue to do their work with ethics, and endurance. They want us dead, they want us silenced. But we are still standing, and we make our voices heard,” she said.
In many nations, the Mexican journalist said, democracy is at great risk, as are the freedoms that so many have made sacrifices to achieve.
“It is not the citizens who make the decisions about their destiny on a daily basis, but groups that concentrate more political, economic, technological, and social power every day… they operate within the framework of the legal and illegal. Organized crime is not only in Mexican drug cartels, but also outside of Mexico in companies, banks, and stock exchanges," Hernández said.
Hernández was born in Mexico in 1971, and is a renowned investigative journalist writing about government corruption, drug trafficking, and sexual exploitation. She said that the fate of her father motivated her work. Her father, an engineer, was kidnapped, and murdered in Mexico City in 2000. The case remained unsolved after her family refused to pay police officials.
She gained international recognition through her 2010 bestseller, Los Señores del Narco (English version: Narcoland), which drew connections between high-ranking Mexican government officials, and the country's drug cartels. After death threats, she had to leave Mexico in 2015. Since then she has lived in exile, and is now in Europe.
In 2018, the English version of her book, about the unsolved 2014 murders of 43 students in the Mexican state of Guerrero, was published (A massacre in Mexico: The true story behind the missing forty-three students).
DW chief Limbourg described the Mexican journalist as “a walking miracle,” saying: “Anabel Hernández’s reporting on corruption, and the drug cartels is an impressive example of courageous investigative journalism. We must protect, and support our colleagues who keep searching for truth in spite of the dangers they face."
In the laudatory speech, British journalist, and author Misha Glenny praised Hernández as "one of those courageous analysts who have identified how agents of the state have illegally benefited from the Mexican drug war just as the cartels have."