BY DOUG LORIMER
Renowned Australian journalist and film-maker John Pilger has been awarded the 2003 Sophie Prize, one of the world's most generous environment and development prizes, for his work in helping the public to examine the real causes of the war in Iraq.
The US$100,000 annual prize was set up in 1997 by the Norwegian author of the best-selling novel Sophie's World, Jostein Gaarder, and his wife, Siri Dannevig.
Announcing the judges' decision to award this year's prize to Pilger, Sophie Foundation president Elin Enge said on May 6: "He has through his integrity, thoroughness and courage, strengthened democracy and human dignity. He has managed to engage the public — morally and politically — for the protection of the powerless."
"Pilger has over the last 30 years contributed to uncovering the lies and propaganda of the powerful, especially as they relate to wars, conflict of interests and economic exploitation of people and natural resources," the jury said in its citation.
The panel of judges highlighted Pilger's coverage of the Vietnam War and a recent documentary on the Palestinian situation which "shocked and provoked debate".
In addition, "during the US and British invasion of Iraq he assisted the public in critically assessing the true motives for the war. Thus the public was capable of asking crucial questions as to the legitimacy of war.
"In his most recent book, The New Rulers of the World, he shows the nature of modern imperialism after September 11. He stresses that war is terrorism and that war does not contribute to fighting terrorism."
Pilger will be presented with the prize in Oslo on June 12 by Norwegian environment minister Borge Brende.
From Green Left Weekly, May 14, 2003.
Visit the Green Left Weekly home page.