The New York Times recently created a set of ads featuring their own journalist staff showcasing how important their work is, and the efforts they make to help readers know the truth.

The written text at the end of these ads read:  
The truth is hard to find. The truth is worth pursuing. 

Truer words may be hard to find. Without truth, we have no freedom. Without freedom, all we are left with is fear and violence.   “They are the enemy of the American people.” – President Trump (referring to journalists)    

This painting series honors journalists from around the world. Each painting is of a journalist from a different country that has been persecuted or killed by their own government. They have endured the worst, for simply bringing knowledge through freedom of speech, to the people. Isn’t this what we all deserve? What we all need?   Their stories (along with countless others) need to be heard.  

This series was on display at “Art! Vancouver” 2017 Vancouver Convention Centre May 25th.

25% of all proceeds from artwork sold in this collection was donated to the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists)

Raif Badawi
Writer, Saudi Arabia.

Arrested in 2012.  Charged with “insulting Islam through electronic channels”. Raif Badawi was convicted in 2013 on several charges and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. In 2014, his sentence was increased to 10 years in prison, 1000 lashes, and a fine. He received the first 50 lashes of his sentence on January 9, 2015. Subsequent floggings have been postponed many times, due to his poor health.  His wife believes that Raif will not survive further floggings. Human Rights Watch has stated that the charges against Raif Badawi violate his right to freedom of expression since they are based solely on his involvement in setting up a website for peaceful discussion about religion and religious figures. After receiving death threats, Raif Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, fled to Canada with their three children.  Block Print: Swords from the Saudi Arabia Emblem, symbolizingjustice and strength.

Ayşenur Parıldak
Journalist, Turkey.

Arrested August 2016.  Arrested for criticizing judges and prosecutors (though no such crime exists in the Turkish Penal Code).  Ayşenur was a 26-year-old court reporter and law student when she was arrested and accused of being a member of a terrorist organization by means of her tweets, her work at the Zaman newspaper, and for using a social app named ‘Bylock’. She is among dozens of journalists jailed after a failed military coup attempt in Turkey. Following her arrest, Ayşenur was interrogated day and night for eight days, as well as being subjected to violence and sexual abuse. Though she was released on May 2, 2017, Ayşenur was rearrested by the same court, before being freed, after a prosecutor objected to the initial ruling.A group of Turkish journalists, who identify themselves as “Ayşenur’s Journalist Colleagues”, have appealed to the international community and to international civil society organizations for support of Ayşenur. In a written statement, the group expressed concern that Ayşenur may not survive in prison until her next trial, scheduled for September 2017.As of May 2017, Turkey was holding 235 journalists and media workers behind bars, which means that more than half of the journalists in prison around the world are now located in Turkey.Block Print: Symbol of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who fight for equal rights in Turkey.

Sabry Anwar
Journalist for Al-Badil newspaper, Egypt

Arrested February 21, 2016.  Charges unknown.Sabry Anwar’s home was raided by security forces at dawn on February 21, 2016.  He was arrested and his phone and laptop were confiscated.  When Sabry’s wife finally located and met with her husband four days after the arrest, she learned that he had been tortured with electric shocks in an attempt to coerce a confession from him for crimes he did not commit. As of late 2016, Sabry’s lawyers had not yet been permitted to see his case documents nor learned of the charges against him.  His whereabouts remain unknown. In the weeks prior to his arrest, Sabry had written several stories criticizing local government.  Block Print: Egyptian symbol for Peace

Azimjon Askarov
Journalist, Kyrgyzstan.

Arrested June 2010.  Convicted to a life sentence on several charges, including creating mass disturbances, incitement of ethnic hatred, and complicity in the murder of a police officer. Azimjon Askarov founded the group Vozduh in 2002 to investigate police brutality.  In 2010, he documented the violence of ethnic clashes in South Kyrgyzstan. Shortly after, he was arrested. Azimjon’s trial was protested by several international human rights groups for its irregularities, including alleged torture and the courtroom intimidation of witnesses by police.  He is now serving out his life sentence at a prison colony outside Bishkek.According to the journalist’s son, Sherzod Askarov, Azimjon’s health has deteriorated in recent months as a result of his confinement and he has been denied medical treatment from outside doctors.  A UN Human Rights Committee determined that Azimjon was unjustly arrested, convicted, and imprisoned, held in inhumane conditions, and denied a fair trial.  In 2015, the United States awarded to Azimjon the 2014 Human Rights Defender Award.  This was protested by the Kyrgyz government, who formally terminated a 1993 agreement on cooperation between the U.S. and Kyrgyzstan.  In July 2016, the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan revoked the life sentence against Azimjon and sent his case for review.  Azimjon was re-sentenced to life in January 2017.Block Print: References the Kyrgyzstan flag. The red background symbolizes bravery & valor, and the yellow sun symbolizes peace & wealth.

Danilo López
Reporter for the Guatemala City Daily, Prensa Libre.

Shot dead March 2015.  At the time of his murder, Danilo López had worked as a correspondent for Prensa Libre for over 10 years.  He often wrote about corrupt politicians and the misuse of public funds.  He was investigating a story on money laundering shortly before his death.He had been receiving threats since 2013 and had called the attorney general’s office for assistance an hour before the attack that took his life. Three men, including two police officers, were arrested in June 2015, suspected of being involved in the shooting.  In November 2015, prosecutors accused three members of the Public Ministry and two lawyers of leaking confidential information about the investigation to criminal groups. As of December 2015, no one had been charged with the murder.Danilo López is survived by his 5-year-old daughter and by his wife, who was pregnant at the time of his murder.Block Print: URNG MAIZ: rebel organization that formed in 1982; the public face of the insurgency against the Guatemalan government throughout the Civil War.

Wang Jang
Citizen Journalist, China.

Sentenced to four years and 10 months in prison for “causing disorder”.Ms Wang Jang is currently be held in a detention centre in Jilin City, China. She has been charged with causing “serious disruptions of online order” for her articles in 64 Tianwang, an independent human rights website operating in mainland China, and for posts on other websites. Wang has written about protests and reports of Chinese police harassing, detaining, and beating protestors. Wang is reputed to be one of the best-known citizen journalists in China and has reported on cases that have gained national attention. Front Line Defenders, an organization aimed at supporting human rights defenders at risk, believes that Wang has been convicted solely because of her legitimate and peaceful work in the defence of human rights.Wang is in poor health, having been treated for a brain tumour in 1999. She had been recovering well from the tumour until her detention. Wang has stated that, while in custody, she has been beaten repeatedly, shackled, and subjected to sleep deprivation. The most recent prison census conducted by the Committee to Protect Journalists, showed China to be the world’s leading jailer of journalists. The Committee found that Wang was one of 49 journalists jailed in that country. Block Print: Chinese for Freedom

Dan Heyman
Journalist, United States.

Arrested May 9, 2017.  Charged with wilful disruption of government processes (a misdemeanour under West Virginia state law). Dan Heyman, who works for the Public News Service, approached Tom Price, the secretary of Health and Human Services, and Kellyanne Conway, special counsel to the President on May 9, 2017 to ask the question of whether domestic violence would be a pre-existing condition that could result in the denial of insurance under “Trumpcare” (the new Republican health care bill). When his question was not answered, Mr. Heyman followed the Trump officials down a hallway at the West Virginia state capitol building, repeating the same question several times. He was wearing a press badge and a shirt showing his media outlet. He was then arrested because he was allegedly “aggressively breaching the secret service agents to the point where the agents were forced to remove him a couple of times from the area walking up the hallway in the main building of the Capitol” and he “was causing a disturbance at Ms Conway and Secretary Price”.After several hours in jail, Mr. Heyman was released on $5,000 bail. He faces a $100 fine and a maximum of six months in prison for the misdemeanor.The American Civil Liberties Union has defended Mr Heyman’s actions, saying his “arrest is a blatant attempt to chill an independent, free press. The charges against him are outrageous, and they must be dropped immediately”.Block Print: Quote: President Trump calling out journalists as being the enemy of the American people.

Dina Meza
Journalist, Honduras 

Dina Meza and her family have been nearly constantly harassed and threatened since 2006.  Shortly after Dina Meza graduated from Journalism college in 1989, her brother, Victor, was abducted on his way home from work.  He was taken to a secret prison and tortured for a week with electric shocks and beatings.  He was released only after a campaign lead by Dina for his freedom – the first of her many victories against human rights abuses. In 2006, harassment and death threats began for Dina and her family after her friend, and her company’s lawyer, Dionisio Diaz, was shot dead in the middle of the street. Dina, a mother of three, received the Special Award for Human Rights Journalism under Threat in 2007 from Amnesty International UK. “To practice journalism in a country with high levels of impunity, where they do not investigate crimes, threats, persecution, and other forms of repression against journalists, is to write with a gun pointed at your head… The situation of freedom of expression in Honduras is under attack and journalists’ deaths are an insult.”               – Dina Meza at a hearing of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in March 2014.In 2012, the documented Honduran murder rate was 85.5 homicides for every 100,000 population, making Honduras the most dangerous country on Earth. The corresponding figure for Canada is 1.6 homicides for every 100,000 population.Block Print: Mayan Eagle symbolizes focus & inspiration, encouraging action that takes one to greater heights in life. 

Natalya Estemirova
Correspondent, Filmmaker, Photographer in Chechnya, Russia

Abducted from her home and murdered on July 15, 2009.  At the time of her abduction and murder, Natalya Estemirova was working on cases of human rights abuses in Chechnya.  Her work highlighted extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture, and other crimes.  She collaborated with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.  Natalya worked with other human rights campaigners, including Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist, and Stanislav Markelov, a human rights lawyer.  Both have been murdered. Natalya received many awards for her journalistic and investigative work, including the first Anna Politkovskaya Award, awarded to her by an organization that supports human rights defenders in war and conflict.  In the time leading up to her abduction and murder, Natalya received threats from senior aides of the President of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov. Block Print: Slavic Falcon symbol of courage & strength. Warriors would carry one with them.

Keyvan Karimi
Iranian Kurdish documentary filmmaker.

Sentenced to 223 lashes and one year in prison for “insulting the sacred.”Keyvan Karimi, aged 31, has been in an Iranian prison since late 2015 for allegedly denigrating Shia Islam in his film, Neveshtan Rooy-e Shahr (Writing on the City), which documents graffiti in Tehran. Keyvan was initially sentenced to six years in prison and 223 lashes but, upon appeal, this was reduced to one year in prison and 223 lashes. He was also fined 20 million rials, approximately $700 USD.Some of the scenes from Keyvan’s documentary relate to widespread street protests that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election in Iran. The Green Movement grew out of those peaceful protests, which is still a highly sensitive subject in Iran. On January 18, 2017, Keyvan called his lawyer to say that he was coughing up blood, but prison clinic staff were refusing to transfer him to a hospital for the urgent medical care he required. Two of Keyvan’s documentaries, Marz-e Shekasteh (Broken Border) and Zendegi-e Zan va Shohar (The Life of a Husband and Wife), have won international awards.April 19, 2017 Keyvan was released from prison after he became eligible for parole. Block Print: Persian ‘Azadi’ meaning freedom or liberty