Honoring courage in the name of slain AP photographer

By Patrick Maks | Originally published: AP

The 2020 Anja Niedringhaus Courage in Photojournalism Award, named for the Pulitzer Prize-winning AP photographer who was killed in 2014 reporting in Afghanistan, has been awarded to Masrat Zahra, a Kashmir-based freelance photojournalist.

The award, administered by the International Women’s Media Foundation, recognizes the work of women photographers who put themselves at risk to report the news through images.

Masrat 1

A woman wails while she hugs the shirt of her 14-year old brother, who was killed by Indian armed forces during clashes that erupted between them and protesters near the encounter site in Pinjoora village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district. (Masrat Zahra)

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Masrat Zahra. (Masrat Zahra)

Zahra, born and raised in Srinagar, has documented the ongoing conflict in Indian-controlled Kashmir for four years. Her images illustrate the violent confrontations between Kashmiri protesters and Indian security forces and their subsequent toll on the community. She is one of a small number of women photojournalists working in the area.

“I hope this honor will encourage me to perfect my skills and do my work more confidently,” Zahra said in remarks shared by IWMF. “I also expect it to inspire other women photographers who are working in difficult environments. This is an honor to all women who choose to work in conflict zones.”

Masrat 2

People carry and empty bed of Zakir Musa, a prominent militant commander who was killed in a gunfight between him and Indian armed forces, in the Noopora Village of Tral. (Masrat Zahra)

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Anja Niedringhaus. (AP Photo)

The award jury, which included representatives from The Associated Press and Human Rights Watch and other photojournalists, noted that Masrat’s “portfolio touches us with its humanity.”

“Her work is intensely feeling,” they continued, “and she consistently puts herself before extreme danger to bring us the stories of her communities, especially those of women.”

Photojournalists Laurel Chor, who documented protests in Hong Kong, and Nahira Montcourt, who covered civil unrest in Puerto Rico, received honorable mentions.

Niedringhaus, who received the IWMF Courage in Journalism Award in 2005, was shot and killed by an Afghan policeman in April 2014.