(New York) – Four courageous and tireless advocates for human rights have been selected as 2014 recipients of the prestigious Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, Human Rights Watch said today.
Shin Dong-Hyuk from North Korea, Father Bernard Kinvi from the Central African Republic, Arwa Othman from Yemen, and Dr. M. R. Rajagopal from India are leading voices for justice in their countries, working relentlessly to protect the rights and dignity of others. They will join one past international recipient of the award as they are honored at the Human Rights Watch “Voices for Justice” Annual Dinners held in 20 cities worldwide in November 2014 and March-April 2015.
“The Alison Des Forges Award honors people of extraordinary compassion and courage who work on behalf of some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The award winners have spoken out and intervened in the face of opposition, indifference, and at times life-threatening danger.”
The award is named for Dr. Alison Des Forges, senior adviser at Human Rights Watch for almost two decades, who died in a plane crash in New York State on February 12, 2009. Des Forges was the world’s leading expert on Rwanda, the 1994 genocide, and its aftermath. The Human Rights Watch annual award honors her outstanding commitment to, and defense of, human rights. It celebrates the valor of people who put their lives on the line to create a world free from abuse, discrimination, and oppression.
The recipients of Human Rights Watch’s 2014 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism are:
- Shin Dong-Hyuk, who experienced brutality and starvation growing up in one of North Korea’s forced labor camps and has worked tirelessly to alert the world to these horrors since his escape in 2005;
- Father Bernard Kinvi, a Catholic priest who saved the lives of hundreds of Muslim civilians targeted during sectarian violence in the Central African Republic;
- Arwa Othman, a leading advocate working to end child marriage and promote equality for women in Yemen; and
- Dr. M. R. Rajagopal, a leading palliative care physician from India who, for more than 20 years, has battled conditions that cause patients to suffer severe pain unnecessarily.
Dong-Hyuk will be honored at dinners in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and New York; Kinvi in London, Paris, and Geneva; Othman in Munich and Amsterdam; and Rajagopol in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles.
Jacqueline Moudeïna, a recipient of the 2013 award, will also tour North America and will be honored at dinners in Toronto, Silicon Valley, and San Francisco. Moudeïna has worked for more than two decades to hold Hissène Habré, dictator of Chad from 1982 to 1990, accountable for atrocities and to achieve justice for his victims.
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