Pacific Media Watch

14 December 2017

GLOBAL: Tributes flow for NZ journalist Yasmine Ryan who covered Arab Spring

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Yasmine Ryan ... a "global" freelance journalist who died tragically in Turkey last month. Image: PMW

AUCKLAND (Stuff/Pacific Media Watch): New Zealand journalist Yasmine Ryan, credited with being the first reporter writing in English about the Arab Spring from her base in Tunisia, has been farewelled at a funeral held in Auckland today, reports Stuff.

Ryan died in Turkey at the age of 35 after reportedly falling from the fifth storey of a friend's apartment building in Istanbul on November 30.

Friends and family gathered at St Patrick's Cathedral to farewell the much-loved and respected journalist.

Yasmine's mother, Deborah, spoke during the service of her daughter's goodwill in the field of journalism.

"She believed in journalism, she believed in good journalism," she said. "She did everything for women in journalism, did everything for everybody.

"She [Yasmine] died doing what she loved most."

Yasmine was working as a freelance journalist, based in Tunis, Tunisia, while writing exclusively "on the significance of a rising movement now known as the Arab Spring", recalled investigative journalist Selwyn Manning in his eulogy.

Much of her work on this topic was published in Al Jazeera English, The Independent, and The New York Times.

She was later a fellow of the World Press Institute visiting the United States in 2016.

International award
Yasmine won an International Award for Excellence in Journalism in 2010 for a story about Algerian boat migrants.

She also worked as an online producer and video journalist for other media such as the International Herald Tribune, and the independent New Zealand news agency Scoop.

Yasmine also contributed to Pacific Scoop and Pacific Journalism Review.

Friends and colleagues described her as a "selfless human" and "a fearless woman".

Selwyn Manning, who had worked with Ryan at Scoop, said: "Yasmine's significance throughout the theatre within which she worked was measured by the vital information that she revealed, and brought an understanding to:

+ "those right in the midst of crisis,

+ "those seeking justice and common-ground, and

+ "those who are part of a great diaspora that divides people from their families and cultures."

Ryan was co-author with Manning and Katie Small of I Almost Forgot About the Moon about the human rights campaign in support of Algerian asylum seeker Ahmed Zaoui and his family's right to stay in New Zealand.

Theologian Zaoui was at the ecumenical funeral today where he said prayers in Arabic for Ryan.

Te Reo Māori and Hebrew prayers were also given at the funeral with Monsignor Bernard Kiely as celebrant.

GiveALittle page set up by Jacinta Forde, who works at the University of Waikato with Ryan's father, said her dad had "left on the first plane to Turkey ... to bring her back home to New Zealand".

+ Tribute to a NZ media mentor - Asia Pacific Report

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