Migrant Shelter, The Handmaid’s Tale to Receive Awards During Human Rights First Dinner Tonight

New York City – Tonight at the Human Rights First Award Dinner at Chelsea Piers in New York City, the organization will honor Friar Tomás Gonzaléz, founder of the Mexcian migrant shelter La 72 with the 2017 Human Rights First Award. He is being recognized for his courageous work to provide providing refuge for desperate people fleeing violence and persecution in Central America. Human Rights First will also present its 2017 Sidney Lumet Award for Integrity in Entertainment to the Emmy award-winning Hulu television show The Handmaid’s Tale for raising important questions about the fragility of democracy, personal responsibility, and how complacency, complicity, and fear can conspire to enable extremism.

“At a time when refugees and migrants are being vilified and dehumanized around the world, we are inspired by the courageous work of Friar Tomás and the staff of La 72, who protect and defend the rights of the hemisphere’s most vulnerable population,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “At great personal risk, Friar Tomás and his team provide a crucial lifeline and beacon of hope for thousands of people fleeing for their lives.”

In 2010 the Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas kidnapped and massacred 72 migrants who were attempting to reach the United States. Horrified by the crime and moved by the vulnerability of people fleeing violence in Central America, Friar Tomás González founded La 72 to assist people in desperate need of protection. Today, La 72 is Mexico’s largest shelter for migrants. In 2016 alone, it provided food, water, shelter, spiritual guidance, and legal advice to nearly 14,000 people. Because of their courageous work, Friar Tomás and the staff of La 72 are in the crosshairs of Los Zetas, which has repeatedly threatened to kill them. Unbowed, Friar Tomás persists in championing the human rights of migrants and challenging the Mexican government to end impunity for crimes against them.

Each year the Sidney Lumet Award honors a work of popular culture that raises awareness about human rights and provokes discussion about some of the most pressing political and social issues of our time.

The Handmaid’s Tale is a powerful and timely portrayal of a dystopian society where a theocratic regime seizes power, enslaves women, and makes homosexuality a capital crime. The series is based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. The award will be presented to Bruce Miller, The Handmaid’s Tale’s show runner.

Tonight’s program will also recognize this year’s winners of the Marvin Frankel Award for extraordinary commitment to providing pro bono legal representation to individuals who have fled persecution and seek asylum in the United States. Human Right First will honor Richter & Hampton LLP in Los Angeles, Vinson & Elkins LLP in Houston, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in New York City, and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP in Washington, D.C. for their dedication to human rights and commitment to pro bono service.

Media and photographers interested in covering the event must be credentialed. To RSVP or for more information about the 2017 Human Rights First Award Dinner please contact Corinne Duffy at [email protected] or 202-370-3319


Published on October 18, 2017


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