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Putting all people first: Meet the 2019 shortlisted Young Journalists

21/09/2019

From sword-wielding gangs in Sri Lanka inspired by the movies and the residents of Assam declared stateless in India, to the mysterious death of a Kashmiri in custody, the Tramadol abuse crisis sweeping across Ghana and the parenting rights of the disabled in Armenia.

These are among the stories that have made the shortlist for the 2019 Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, run in collaboration with the UK Foreign Press Association (FPA).

The shortlist, hailing from Armenia, Ghana, Pakistan, Nigeria, South Africa, India and Sri Lanka won over judges at the foundation with their stories about putting all people first.

Using the example of Fatima Begum, a Bengali Muslim woman left off Assams citizens' list and facing statelessness and detention, Sarita Santoshini warns that the Indian state is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis in one of her three submissions for the award. From Armenia, Kushane Chobanyan writes about a determined young teacher with Down syndrome who is revolutionising his community's education system.



No ink too faint For the last seven years, Thomson Foundation has given opportunities to journalists aged 30 and under from countries with a Gross National Income per capita of less than $20,000.

This year, almost 200 entries poured in from 55 countries, including Kenya and Kyrgyzstan and from Nepal and Nicaragua to Moldova and Mexico.

As a special tribute to the awards this year, previous winners were invited back to talk about the life-changing impact the prize had on their careers - an apt way of celebrating them and the award's rise internationally. For the former winners, the accolade meant a level of support that most aspiring journalists only dream of and all were compelled to offer advice to journalists applying for this year's award.

Rewrite the narrative and influence change, was the bold statement from Judy Kosgei, the first winner of the annual prize in 2013. No media platform is too small to stir change, no voice too low, no picture too hazy and no ink too faint. There is no greater opportunity than this.

It's a thought that sums up the essence of the Young Journalist Award, which encourages journalists to mainstream marginalised voices and share difficult truths.

"No media platform is too small to stir change, no voice too low, no picture too hazy, no ink too faint"

Judy Kosgei, 2013 Young Journalist winner

The shortlist 2019 Aamir Ali, India

In one of his three stories, Aamir visits the family of Rizwan Asad Pandit, a 29-year-old teacher who was detained over a security investigation in Indian-administered Kashmir and died in police custody. Pandits family condemned his death as a cold-blooded murder and the incident prompted widespread rioting and anger. Aamir later investigated a range of abuses in detention facilities run by the Indian army, local police and paramilitaries since India announced its decision to withdraw the region's autonomy. In a related story, Aamir looks at the traumatic emotional impact on young Kashmiris of pellet shotguns fired by security forces and how the region is in the grip of a mental health crisis.

Kushane Chobanyan, Armenia

People with disabilities can parent, was the message in one of Kushane's submissions for the Young Journalist Award. Filmed in different parts of Armenia, Kushane explores whether people with disabilities face significant barriers to becoming adoptive parents. In another story, Kushane focuses her attention on Tigran Gevorgyan, a determined young man with Down syndrome who has been overcoming prejudice surrounding his condition by taking charge of early-learning classes at an educational centre in Armenia. A genetic condition, Down syndrome typically affects a persons physical and intellectual growth. In Tigrans case, and as Kushane writes, it has done nothing to diminish his optimism and self-belief.

Meiryum Ali, Pakistan

Meiryum's visual analysis of the complex court document connecting former Pakistani president, Asif Ali Zardari with a high-profile money-laundering case in which millions were allegedly siphoned out of the country, went viral shortly after its release. As discontent simmers in Pakistan following repeated devaluations of the rupee and soaring inflation, Meiryum vowed to make sense of the dense financial report to help shape public discourse around the former president's trial. Her video was picked up by a major news channel and even shared on Twitter by the country's current ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Another of Meiryum's stories focused on the collection of bribery, not rent, from shopkeepers in Empress Market in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

Amos Abba, Nigeria

The idea that one can eradicate cancer through something as simple as taking a herbal supplement is an alluring one. Amos goes undercover in one of his reports to meet three herbal doctors in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria, who all falsely claim to have a cure for cancer. Faced with the prospect of chemotherapy, many patients visit these doctors in the hope that a more natural option might spare them the potentially unpleasant treatment effects of chemo and radiotherapy. However, as Amos warns, these costly herbal treatment programmes neither change their prognosis, but in some cases, actually lead to further health complications.

Sarita Santoshini, India

The latest list of citizens in Assam state in north-eastern India effectively strips nearly two million people of citizenship, writes Sarita in her report. To be recognised as an Indian citizen here, an individual must prove their links to the region dating back half a century and those left off the list face being branded illegal immigrants and sent to detention camps. Muslims, women and the poorest communities could be the worst affected. Sarita explores the problem t
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