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VOA Correspondent Wins Human Rights Press Award

VOA Beijing correspondent Luis Ramirez reported on the protests and Chinese government crackdown over the construction of a hydroelectric dam in Hanyuan County in Sichuan Province.

Washington, D.C., June 22, 2005 -- Luis Ramirez, Beijing correspondent for the Voice of America (VOA), has received a Human Rights Press Award, one of Asia's top annual journalism award programs.

Ramirez was recognized for his report on the residents of Hanyuan County in Sichuan Province who were protesting against the Chinese government's decision to place a hydroelectric dam in their area without properly compensating the farmers for their land. Ramirez also reported on the government's crackdown against the protestors. In his report, Ramirez described how he evaded possible detention and expulsion by Chinese authorities by slipping past heavily armed soldiers and police when he went to "catch a glimpse of the gigantic dam project and the towns and villages that are to be flooded."

The Awards are sponsored by Amnesty International Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Journalists Association and the Foreign Correspondents' Club-Hong Kong for reporting in Asia. Amnesty International presents the awards to journalists to recognize excellence in human rights journalism that has made a significant contribution to the public's greater awareness and understanding of human rights issues. The competition included a record number of nominations from news organizations including the Financial Times, Asian Wall Street Journal, CNN and BBC.

Ramirez, 37, has been VOA's Beijing bureau chief since August 2003. He formerly served as VOA's West Africa correspondent in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, where he covered West and Central Africa. Along with providing news on coup attempts, political assassinations, child labor, and ethnic and religious unrest, he covered elections in nations including Ghana, Mali, and Nigeria and was on the scene to bring news of the difficult return to peace in Sierra Leone.

Ramirez joined VOA in 1999 after spending six years reporting for an all-news radio station in his hometown of Los Angeles, California, where he won several awards for his news coverage.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts more than 1,000 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 100 million people. Programs are produced in 44 languages, including English.

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