With so much aggression and conflict in the world, as individuals, we are often called to respond – to be courageous, selfless and willing to help our fellow man. Many answer this call through journalism, making it their civic duty to report on what is happening throughout the world in order to educate their fellow man and ignite change. In Dohuk, Iraq, there is an individual who has risen to the occasion, to make the world a better place for humanity. Hexagon is pleased to recognise Hassan Ashwor as the recipient of this year’s esteemed Martin Adler Prize.
Sponsored by Hexagon and presented by the Rory Peck Trust, the Martin Adler Prize acknowledges the bravery and commitment of freelancers who witness history first-hand, despite unpredictable conditions, to educate the public about stories that matter to the world.
Ashwor is a freelance fixer based in North Iraq. In this role, he assists visiting journalists and human rights investigators travelling in the region to investigate atrocities perpetrated by the extremist group ISIS.
Fixers are heavily relied upon by foreign correspondents. Their position is dangerous; they are targets who are often considered traitors working in tandem with the enemy. Even though fixers take enormous risks to help their foreign counterparts and routinely demonstrate remarkable bravery, their roles often go unrecognised by mainstream media. Fixers are at risk for kidnapping, extortion and murder by their own countrymen for assisting foreign correspondents. Fortunately, there are many journalists who truly appreciate the fixer’s dedication to their safety.
Filmmaker Ed Watts, who produced and directed the 2015 documentary “Escape from ISIS,” recalls how Ashwor protected him while they reported close to the frontline of ISIS. “He was tireless, courageous, indefatigable, and did it all without ever a word of complaint and always with a fantastic sense of humour. Those qualities allowed me – a foreigner – to gain access into the incredibly sensitive operations to rescue enslaved women and children from operations so secret even most Iraqis did not know about them. Together we captured extraordinary scenes of women and children being brought to freedom. None of it would have happened without Hassan.”
Ashwor is no stranger to the atrocities ISIS has committed – he and his family were displaced by an ISIS attack on the Sinjar Mountain in 2014. Three days later, after he had reached safety with his family, he boarded a helicopter with a New York Times journalist to report on the siege of Sinjar, he began his career as a fixer.
When he’s not working with foreign correspondents, Ashwor is working as a pharmacist with non‑government organisations that assist the thousands of displaced people living in Dohuk.
Hexagon is proud to sponsor the recognition of dedicated individuals like Hassan Ashwor, who embodies what it means to make a difference in today’s conflicted world. The accolade, to be presented by the Rory Peck Trust on 18 November, underscores the contributions of fixer journalists like Ashwor.
Fixer journalists – often unseen and unheard – go above and beyond to maintain the safety of others, even if it means putting their own lives in danger in order to enrich the world community as well as their own – that’s shaping smart change.
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