Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Seven Human Rights Fighters Receive Top UN Awards

by UN News Centre, December 10, 2008

Louise Arbour and Ramsey Clark have both spoken out on the Tamil human rights issue on the island, not always an easy thing to do, so Sangam is proud of them for receiving such an honor from the UN. -- Ed. Comm.

The United Nations General Assembly today awarded its top human rights prize to seven global advocates ranging from a Congolese doctor who treats female victims of sexual violence, a nun who fought for indigenous rights before her murder in Brazil, and the assassinated Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto.

Recipients at the 2008 human rights award ceremony

The UN Prize in the Field of Human Rights, awarded every five years, was presented at a General Assembly ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

The winners are former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour; United States ex-Attorney-General Ramsey Clark; Executive Director and co-founder of Jamaicans for Justice Carolyn Gomes; Denis Mukwege, co-founder of the General Referral Hospital of Panzi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC); Human Rights Watch, represented by its executive director Kenneth Roth; Ms. Bhutto; and Dorothy Stang of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur who was murdered in Brazil three years ago.

They join a distinguished roster of previous laureates that includes apartheid fighter and former South African President Nelson Mandela, US civil rights leader Martin Luther King, former US first Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, former US President Jimmy Carter, and Amnesty International.

The prize was first awarded on 10 December 1968 on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the UDHR.

“As we mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we acknowledge the tireless work and invaluable contribution of these individuals and organizations that have fought to see the rights and freedoms embodied in this historic document become a reality for people in all corners of the world,” Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto said.

“These awardees constitute symbols of persistence, valour and tenacity in their resistance to public and private authorities that violate human rights. They constitute a moral force to put an end to systematic human rights violations.”


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