0721 GMT June 19, 2019
A glance at the history of photojournalism and World Press Photo (WPP), which are very much interconnected, shows that Iran is a very important country, said WPP's director of exhibitions.
Iranians are many of the world's very-well established photojournalists, Laurens Korteweg told Iran Daily on Monday on the sidelines of a press conference on World Press Photo Exhibition titled 'Best of 2016-2018' to be held in Tehran during May 10-June 1.
He said this has been reflected in the earlier WPP contests in which many of the winners, such as Ebrahim Norouzi, were from Iran.
Norouzi was among the award-winning photographers at WPP contests in 2012 and 2013.
He said it is a shared opinion that Iranian photographers are among the very well-developed ones, adding late Abbas Kiarostami and Newsha Tavakolian are also two leading Iranian photographers.
"That is also the reason why we thought we needed to go to Iran. We just wanted to be here. We showed this exhibition all around the world in 45 and 100 countries and cities [respectively], and now finally, after quite some hard work, we can add Tehran to that [list]. We believe that it is important for everyone to see this [exhibition] because we maintain that every society needs to be informed well. We all need to be aware of what is happening as only by being cognizant we might feel responsible or take action."
He added that is why the WPP is a strong advocate of a well-informed society and that is why this exhibition is staged all around the world.
A well-informed society also refers to the one that protects its journalists, as they need to be able to work freely and independently, Korteweg said.
"That is why we think it is important to be talked about, as although sometimes people do not agree with something, which is okay, they still need to be able to hear or see something about it. That is what this exhibition does. We bring it all over the world and we hope that it makes people stop, feel, think and act."
Korteweg said the current situation for press freedom does not look very bright, adding there is a lot to be improved in this regard.
The expo that is going to be held in Tehran in a few days, is a show featuring the best photos of the last three years: 2016, 2017 and 2018, he added.
"Normally we organize a contest on an annual basis, and then we make it into an exhibition. Thus every year, we have an exhibition. The expo here, is a summary of the last three years. It still brings visitors to the conflict in Syria, [the northern Iraqi city of] Mosul, beautiful wild life and environmental stories."
The quality of this exposition is going to be really good and it is definitely going to inspire people, he underlined.
"We want to be a very inclusive organization and, thus, we want to be in Iran."
The United Nations Information Center in Tehran is very pleased to be supporting this important exhibition as it promotes the value of the freedom of press and photojournalism, said the director of the organization.
Speaking to Iran Daily on the sidelines of the same press conference in a separate interview, Maria Dotsenko added the opening of the expo is almost concurrent with the World Press Freedom Day which is annually marked all over the world on May 3 according to the decision of the UN General Assembly as of December 1993.
The theme of this year's celebration of World Press Freedom Day is: 'Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law'.
WPP exhibition in Tehran will be officially opened by the Netherland's Ambassador to Iran Susanna Terstal on May 9 in a ceremony to be attended by government officials, diplomats, media and special guests.
Dotsenko added, "We support the exhibition by providing it with some funding as well as human resources."
The annual photo contest awards photographers for the best images contributing to the past year of visual journalism. It is the world's leading contest for professional press photographers, photojournalists and documentary photographers.
The prize-winning pictures usually are presented in an exhibition visiting around 100 cities in about 45 countries over the course of each year and seen by more than four million people annually worldwide.
'Best of 2016-2018'
'The Best of 2016-2018' WPP exhibition in Tehran will be presented by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in cooperation with the Iranian Photojournalist Association. Carefully chosen photos from the WPP exhibitions from the years 2016 until 2018 will be put on display at the expo. The categories are: 'Contemporary Issues', 'General News', 'People', 'Spot News', 'Daily Life', 'Sports', 'Nature and Long-Term Projects', with a new category in 2018 'Environment'.
Workshops will be provided for Iranian photojournalists during the exhibition.
The exhibition is an initiative by the World Press Photo Foundation.
Reading out the statement by UN Secretary General António Guterres on World Press Freedom Day at the press conference, Dotsenko said, "A free press is essential for peace, justice and human rights for all. It is crucial to building transparent and democratic societies and keeping those in power accountable. It is vital for sustainable development. Journalists and media workers shine a light on local and global challenges and tell the stories that need to be told. Their service to the public is invaluable.
"Laws that protect independent journalism, freedom of expression and the right to information need to be adopted, implemented and enforced. Crimes against journalists must be prosecuted.
"On World Press Freedom Day 2018, I call on governments to strengthen press freedom, and to protect journalists. Promoting a free press is standing up for our right to truth."
Addressing the conference, Korteweg said a total of 141 photos will be put on display at the expo.