The Al Jazeera English Online unit AJ Shorts was honoured alongside fellow awards winners from The New York Times, Reuters, BBC, Washington Post and leading East Asian news outlets at this year’s Human Rights Press Awards ceremony in Hong Kong.
The AJ Shorts digital documentary, Growing up too Fast in Afghanistan, won in the Short Video (English) category, which was announced at the event on May 16. The film is the first-person narrative of a 14-year-old boy, Khudai, whose father was killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) group, forcing him to abandon school and take odd jobs to ensure the survival of his mother and five younger sisters.
Filmed and directed by Preethi Nallu, Growing up too Fast in Afghanistan also garnered two awards at the Webby Awards gala in New York City earlier this month.
Al Jazeera Media Network’s director of Digital Innovation and Programming Carlos Van Meek said he is proud of his team’s accomplishments.
“This was a great collaboration between our broadcast partners and our digital team. I credit everyone involved for thinking laterally and working together across platforms to get the most out of a great story. Much more of this to come,” said Van Meek.
The Human Rights Press Awards presented 52 awards in recognition of outstanding human rights-focused journalism from across Asia. Winning entries ranged from high-profile issues such as the plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya, to under-reported topics such as the extrajudicial killing of Muslims in India, and the hardships faced by stateless minority communities living precariously along Cambodia‘s waterways.
The award for Best Investigative Feature Writing went to Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and their colleagues in recognition of their chilling work Myanmar Burning, which documented military atrocities including extrajudicial killings against the Rohingya Muslim minority. Shortly after publishing the report, Myanmar authorities imprisoned the two journalists for more than 500 days.
AJ Shorts Commissioning Editor Andrew James Phillips said his team’s win provided “a big lift to continue telling stories of ordinary people in extraordinary and often extremely challenging circumstances”.
“We’re honoured to receive such an important accolade,” Phillips said.
Keynote speaker Maria Ressa, cofounder and CEO of the Philippines-based news website Rappler, summed up the role that human rights storytelling and reportage play in global media.
“Your reporting matters now more than ever,” she said, addressing the audience in Hong Kong. “We need to hold the line and show the best of human nature. That is our hope for the future.”