Ryan Boyette to Receive Human Rights First Award
New York City – Human Rights First will honor Ryan Boyette, a human rights advocate based in Sudan, with its 2014 Human Rights First Award. Boyette will be recognized for his courageous work documenting and drawing international attention to the ongoing bombings and attacks against civilians by the Sudanese government in conflicts largely hidden from worldview. The organization will present the Human Rights First Award to Boyette at its annual gala on October 22 at Chelsea Piers in New York City.
“Human Rights First is proud to honor Ryan Boyette for his critically important work and incredible bravery exposing the brutality of the Sudanese regime,” said Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “We are inspired by Ryan’s commitment to keep the eyes of the world on the human rights crisis in southern Sudan.”
In June 2011, following disputed elections in Sudan’s South Kordofan state, violence erupted between the Sudanese government and armed rebel forces. As retribution against the rebels, the Sudanese military launched a violent campaign targeting civilians, many of Nuban descent, in rebel-controlled territory. Three years later, indiscriminate bombings and violence continues in South Kordofan. Terrorized by daily air strikes, civilians have been killed and their property destroyed. In an effort to hide their crimes, the Sudanese government banned all journalists from the region.
Because of the violence, humanitarian organizations in the region called for their staff to evacuate. Boyette was working for an aid organization, but refused to leave – and made a commitment to expose the violence to the world. He founded Nuba Reports, a network of citizen and professional journalists that today covers not only South Kordofan, but also Blue Nile and increasingly Darfur where government forces bomb and attack civilians as well.
Armed with nothing but video cameras, solar-powered laptops, and satellite phones, Boyette and the Nuba Reports team risk their lives to expose the assault on the Nuban people, and serve as witnesses for the world. With their news coverage and on social media, they work to galvanize worldwide attention and generate political will for long-term change in Sudan. Nuba Reports is a vital – and often the only – source of on-the-ground information for human rights groups, governments, and the media on southern Sudan.
“It is a great honor to win the Human Rights First Award. I wish the entire Nuba Reports could be there with me to accept it in New York. I am truly humbled,” Boyette said.
Ryan and his family have been threatened and targeted by the Sudanese government for Nuba Report’s work: Their home has been bombed and a government spy was shot outside a building where Boyette was sleeping.
For more than 20 years, Human Rights First has presented its annual Human Rights First Award to courageous activists on the frontlines of the struggle for freedom. Dennis Mukwege of The Democratic Republic of Congo; Basem Fathy of Egypt; Shehrbano Tasser of Pakistan; Julius Kaggwa of Uganda; Viktória Mohácsi of Hungary; Damos De Blanco (Ladies in White) of Cuba; Ludmilla Alexeeva of Russia; Helen Mack of Guatemala; Merenghiz Kar of Iran; Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt; Albie Sachs of South Africa; and Hina Jalani of Pakistan are among the previous recipients of the Human Rights First Award.