The Kality Foundation was established by us to help other journalists who are, or risk ending up in the same situation as we were in (read more below). The purpose of the Kality Foundation is to provide financial assistance to reporters and photographers world wide who are imprisoned. We can also provide emergency funding to colleagues who are risking imprisonment.
During our imprisonment, the Swedish section of Reporters Without Borders and the Swedish Union of Journalists launched a fund for the benefit of us. The money primarily covered legal fees and expenses during the trial process, but also other expenses for our families. For us in an extremely vulnerable and difficult situation this money really made a difference in our daily life – since you can not eat letters of support.
The money left in the fund when we were released, together with additional funds from the revenues from our book 438 dagar, was the start-up capital for the foundation.
Kality Foundation (Kalityfonden) is a member of the Journalists in Distress (JID) Network, a group of 18 international organizations that provide direct assistance to journalists and media workers whose lives or careers are threatened because of their work.
Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson
On the eve of June 28th 2011, we, Martin Schibbye, journalist, and Johan Persson, photographer, put everything at stake by illegally crossing the border from Somalia into Ethiopia. After months of research, planning and failed attempts, we were finally on our way to report on how the ruthless hunt for oil effected the population of the isolated and conflict-ridden Ogaden region.
Five days later we lay wounded in the desert sand, shot and captured by the Ethiopian army. When our initial reportage died, another story began. A story about lawlessness, propaganda and global politics. After a Kafkaesque trial we were sentenced to eleven years in prison for terrorism. And we were far from alone. Our cellmates were journalists, writers and politicians persecuted for not bowing down to dictatorship. Our reportage about oil was transformed into a story about ink, and our daily lives turned into a fight for survival inside the notorious Kality prison in Addis Ababa. Exposed to deadly diseases, daily beatings and fierce repression – deprived of our shoelaces and our freedom of speech – we fought to preserve the most valuable thing of all: the freedom to determine who you are and what you believe.
This is when we promised to help other journalists in the same situation. This is when the Kality foundation was created.
The board representatives besides Johan and Martin are Jonathan Lundqvist from the Swedish Section of Reporters Without Borders, Mattias Göransson from the magazine Filter, Jonas Nordling and Eva-Maria Kollberg from The Swedish Union of Journalists, Sara Torsner and Anne Markowski from the Free Martin and Johan-groups established during their imprisonment, Magnus Laupa from the photo agency Kontinent, Brit Stakston at Stakston.se, and Melody Sundberg, project manager at Untold Stories. Journalists in exile are represented by Mesfin Negash.
Webmaster: Melody Sundberg