4 Human Rights Defenders receiving the Alison des Forges Award 2015

August 11, 2015

2015 Alison Des Forges Award Honorees

2015 Alison Des Forges Award Honorees. Top: Khadija Ismayilova (Azerbaijan), Yara Bader (Syria), Father Bernard Kinvi (CAR – 2014 winner). Bottom: Nicholas Opiyo (Uganda), Nisha Ayub (Malaysia), Dr. M.R. Rajagopal (India – 2014 winner). © Jahangir Yusif, Francesca Leonardi (Internazionale), 2014 Human Rights Watch, 2015 Rebecca Vassie, 2015 Nisha Ayub, Paramount Color Lab, Ulloor, Trivandrum

Human Rights Watch just announced that its Alison Des Forges Award winners 2015 come from Uganda, Syria, Malaysia and Azerbaijan:

Nisha Ayub, Malaysia
For over a decade, Nisha Ayub has championed the rights of transgender people in Malaysia through support services, legal and policy analysis, and public outreach. Human Rights Watch honors Nisha Ayub for challenging the discriminatory laws that prevent transgender people in Malaysia from living free of violence, fear, and oppression.

Yara Bader, Syria
Yara Bader, a journalist and human rights activist, works to expose the detention and torture of activists – including her husband, Mazen Darwish recently released – in war-torn Syria. She has experienced first-hand how the Syrian government uses its security and intelligence agencies to brutally crack down on independent voices. Human Rights Watch honors Yara Bader for her tremendous courage in speaking out on behalf of Syrian detainees despite grave risks to her safety.

Khadija Ismayilova, Azerbaijan 
Khadija Ismayilova, a prominent investigative journalist in Azerbaijan, has dedicated her life to the fight against corruption, for human rights, and for freedom for political prisoners in a country under increasingly harsh authoritarian rule. Human Rights Watch honors Khadija Ismayilova for her extraordinary courage as a journalist and human rights activist in the face of an escalating crackdown on freedom of expression in Azerbaijan. She is currently behind bars. see also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/khadija-ismayilova-azerbaijan-is-not-deterred/

Nicholas Opiyo, Uganda
Nicholas Opiyo is a leading human rights lawyer and founder of Chapter Four Uganda, a human rights organization. He has successfully argued several high-level constitutional challenges, including to the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Act of 2013, which was declared null and void in August 2014. Human Rights Watch honors Nicholas Opiyo for his unfaltering dedication to upholding the human rights of all Ugandans by promoting universal access to justice.

 

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. For more on the award, see: http://www.brandsaviors.com/thedigest/award/alison-des-forges-award-extraordinary-activism. See also: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/events-in-memory-of-alison-des-forges-at-buffalo-university/

The four 2015 honorees 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. Also two 2014 recipients of the award, Father Bernard Kinvi from the Central African Republic and Dr. M.R. Rajagopal from India will included in this series of events:

 

Father Bernard Kinvi, Central African Republic
Father Bernard Kinvi is a Catholic priest who directs the hospital at the Catholic mission in Bossemptele, Central African Republic. In early 2014, when sectarian violence devolved into coordinated violence targeting Muslim civilians, Kinvi saved the lives of hundreds of besieged Muslims, whom he gathered from their homes and sheltered in the Catholic church. Despite repeated death threats, Kinvi persisted in protecting those in his charge until they could be taken to safety. Human Rights Watch honors Father Bernard Kinvi for his unwavering courage and dedication to protecting civilians in the Central African Republic.

Dr. M. R. Rajagopal, India
Dr. M. R. Rajagopal is a leading palliative care physician from India who, for more than 20 years, has battled conditions that cause patients to suffer severe pain unnecessarily. As clinician, academic, and activist, Rajagopal is a global force behind efforts to promote and put into practice palliative care as a human right. He built the world’s most successful community-based palliative care program, and he and his organization, Pallium India, played a key role in convincing India’s government to make morphine accessible. Human Rights Watch honors Dr. M. R. Rajagopal for his efforts to defend the right of patients with severe pain to live and die with dignity.

Rights Activists Honored | Human Rights Watch.

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