Friday, April 14, 2006

ASIA: Three widows named for two more international awards

ASIA: Three widows named for two more international awards

ASIA: Three widows named for two more international awards

(Hong Kong, April 13, 2006) The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) on Thursday jointly nominated Angkhana Neelaphaijit, Suciwati Munir and Padma Perera for two more prestigious international human rights awards.

The Hong Kong-based regional rights group named the three women--all of them widows of murdered human rights defenders--for the 2006 Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award and John Humphrey Freedom Award.

All three of the women are fighting for human rights and justice with "tremendous courage and at serious personal risk", Basil Fernando, executive director of the AHRC, said.

Their collective work is of "great significance not only to their own countries but also to the Asian region as a whole", Fernando said.

On March 30 the AHRC named the three to receive jointly the 2006 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights.

The Korean award, which is among the most prominent commendations for human rights work in Asia, is given annually by the Gwangju-based May 18 Memorial Foundation.

The Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award is presented each year by the Robert F Kennedy Memorial, based in Washington DC.

"Each [of the joint nominees] meets the criteria of the Robert F Kennedy Memorial in being a woman of integrity, creativity and commitment to human rights," Fernando said.

The John Humphrey Freedom Award is also given annually, by the Montreal-based group Rights & Democracy, in honour of John Peters Humphrey, who prepared the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Each of the three nominees were "working within their own country contexts to address threats to human rights defenders and their families under conditions hostile to the recognition and application of basic human and democratic rights, as well as in the region as a whole," Fernando told the members of the John Humphrey prize jury.

Fernando explained that in making the nominations the AHRC was doing more than just extolling the qualities of the three women and recalling the important work of their husbands.

"This is about genuine solidarity," Fernando said.

"Genuine solidarity is not just statements of respect and support. It means real commitments to building regional and international relationships for change," he said.

"All of these awards offer meaningful partnerships and ongoing contacts for the laureates," Fernando added.

Fernando himself received the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights in 2001.

"We are very hopeful that these nominations will be considered seriously," Fernando said.

"These are really remarkable women working under extraordinary circumstances," he said.

"They deserve recognition far beyond what they have received to date," Fernando concluded.

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About AHRC The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Posted on 2006-04-13
Back to [2006 AHRC Press Releases]