Alison Des Forges Award Honorees From Uganda, Syria, Malaysia, Azerbaijan
“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” —Nelson Mandela—
(New York) – Four courageous and tireless advocates for human rights are the 2015 recipients of the prestigious Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, Human Rights Watch said today.
The winners, leading voices for justice in their countries, are Nisha Ayub, a leading human rights defender on transgender rights in Malaysia; Yara Bader, a journalist and human rights activist who works to expose the detention and torture of journalists in war-torn Syria; Khadija Ismayilova, a prominent investigative journalist who has dedicated her life to fighting for human rights in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan; and Nicholas Opiyo, a leading human rights lawyer and founder of the human rights organization Chapter Four Uganda, who has worked tirelessly to defend civil liberties in Uganda. Ismayilova is currently behind bars and on trial on bogus tax and other charges brought in retribution for her reporting.
“The Alison Des Forges Award honors people who work courageously and selflessly to defend human rights, often in dangerous situations and at great personal sacrifice,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The honorees have dedicated their lives to defending the world’s most oppressed and vulnerable people.”
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 four 2015 honorees and two 2014 recipients of the award, Father Bernard Kinvi from the Central African Republic and Dr. M.R. Rajagopal from India, will be honored at the Voices for Justice Human Rights Watch Annual Dinners held in more than 20 cities worldwide in November 2015 and March-April 2016.
Ayub will be honored in Amsterdam; Bader in London and Paris; Ismayilova in Munich and Geneva; and Opiyo in Santa Barbara and Los Angeles. Father Kinvi will tour North America and will be honored at dinners in New York, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Toronto. Dr. Rajagopal will be honored in Hanover.
Article by Human Rights Watch AUGUST 10, 2015