Kemal Kurspahic, Gordana Knezevic | 1992 Courage in Journalism Award
When Kurspahic was injured while fleeing snipers, Gordana Knezevic, the deputy editor-in-chief of Oslobodjenje, took over. Printed at night under battlefield conditions and distributed at dawn, the independent newspaper chronicled the fighting and provided a manual for civilian survival. It became a source of information and a symbol of defiance in a city of 400,000 trapped, hungry and embattled people.
For Knezevic, life in Sarajevo became intolerable. Each day there was increasingly less food for her son and she missed her daughter who was living with friends in Croatia. She said, “I could not let my children suffer because of my political beliefs.”
Knezevic had been political reporter and editor in the Daily Oslobodjenje since 1980, and was permanent correspondent of Oslobodjenje in Cairo from 1987 to 1991. Since the beginning of the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, she was one of the most active writers-editors-organizers in Oslobodjenje, and struggled to keep the survival of the paper and free journalism.
In 1996, Knezevic moved with her family to Canada, where she later was the target of protests by Serbs because of an article she wrote supporting the NATO bombing in Yugoslavia.
Born on 1946, Kemal Kurspahic was editor-in-chief of Sarajevo Daily Newspaper Oslobodjenje from December 1988 until March 1994. In the first year of his editorship, the paper was named “The Paper of the Year in former Yugoslavia in 1989” and won “The Paper of the Year in the World” award in 1992.
He took every effort to publish Oslobodjenje everyday in the ruins of the paper’s offices during the siege of Sarajevo and the war in Bosnia-Hercegovina, which started in March 1992.
Besides the 1992 IWMF Courage Award, Kurspahic received numerous other awards after that, including the World Press Review’s International Editor of the Year in 1993, the Bruno Kreisky Award for Human Rights in 1993 and the International Press Institute’s World Press Freedom Hero in 2000.
Kurspahic was granted interviews with prominent world leaders such as Ronald Reagon, Javier Peres de Cuellar, Rajiv Gandhi and some others. He is also a noted writer and published a few books, including As Long as Sarajevo Exists, Letters from the War, The White House and Prime Time Crime.
Kemal Kurspahic and Gordana Knezevic is the first winner of the Courage in Journalism Award from Bosnia-Herzegovina, followed by Mirsada Sakic-Hatibovic and Arijana Saracevic (1993).