Texas Tech University

Graduate Student Research Symposium on Human Rights

Hannah Holtz and Chyna Vargas

April 7, 2023

On Feb. 27, The College of Media & Communication presented two awards in international journalism and human rights during the 2023 Graduate Student Research Symposium. Dr. Lyombe Eko presented the awards to two female journalists who have made a huge impact on the advancement of human rights and freedom of expression.

Eko introduced the guests of honor, Katerina Sergatskova of Ukraine and Masih Alinejad of Iran. Both were recognized for their dedication to speaking the hard truth in their home countries.

Alinejad was exiled by the Iranian government in 2009 due to her work as a journalist and critic of the Iranian regime. Alinejad said she went against the norms of journalism in Iran and wanted to cover the issues behind the scenes. According to the New Yorker, she criticized members of the Iranian government while she was working as a parliamentary reporter and started a movement encouraging Iranian women to post pictures of themselves without their government-mandated hijabs. Since moving to the United States, she has been the target of multiple attacks, including an assassination attempt and a kidnapping plot involving an Iranian intelligence official, according to CBS News.

Masih Alinejad, investigative journalist, Voice of America Persian Service

While the Iranian government has targeted her for her methods of journalism and outspoken criticism of the regime, Alinejad, who is now under 24-hour FBI protection, said it does not stop her from being a journalist.

We are warriors,” Alinijah said. “My voice is my weapon.”

Alinejad dedicated her award to the citizens of Iran who continue to be citizen journalists.

Sergatskova is a journalist and the co-founder of Zaborona Media, a Ukraine-based online media outlet. Sergatskova said her journalism career started at 16 years old when she covered a radical group in Russia. This was also the same time she received her first threat.

Even though my profession is dangerous,” Sergatskova said, “I love my job.”

Sergatskova and her family fled Ukraine in 2020 after she began receiving death threats and her personal information, including her address and photos of her children, was posted online, according to Human Rights Watch. Sergatskova became a target of online harassment when Zaborona reported on potential links between Ukrainian far-right and neo-Nazi groups and a fact-checking organization fighting propaganda about Ukrainian affairs. Sergatskova, who was born in Russia but renounced her citizenship to become a Ukrainian citizen in 2015, was accused of being a Russian operative or working with Russian intelligence agencies.

Katerina Sergatskova & Zaborona Media, Ukraine

Now 20 years into her career, what motivates her to keep telling the truth is her two sons. She said she cares about the future because they will be the ones to experience it.

Sergatskova dedicated her award to the Ukrainian journalists who risk their lives and health to speak the truth.

Dean David D. Perlmutter, Ph.D., presented the awards and showed gratitude toward the recipients and said how grateful the college is for their dedication to freedom of the press and human rights.


Graduate Student Sessions

[ Read all abstracts ]

Mekala Conway

The Exceptional First Amendment and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Fabiola Carrión

Social Media as Alternative Source of Counter Information on Police Brutality in Latin America: The Case of Chile, Peru, and Colombia

Saleha Soadat

Taliban Regime Erasure of Female Journalists in Afghanistan

Carolina Perez

Resisting Authoritarian Internet Censorship in Cuba: The Case of Yaoni Sanchez

Hamid Amini

Woman, Life, Freedom: The Struggle for Human Rights in Iran

Md Ashraful Goni

Hate speech as a tool of oppression against homosexuals: A study on Bangladeshi Islamic Preacher's YouTube Videos

Mahedi Hasan

Associated Press Erasure of Ugandan Climate Activist, Venessa Nakate: A Textual and Visual Analysis