Three Human Rights Defenders Selected as Final Nominees for the 2015 Martin Ennals Award
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First along with the other members of the Martin Ennals Award jury today announced Robert Sann Aung, Asmaou Diallo, and Ahmed Mansoor as the three finalists for the 2015 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders. This award is given annually by the international human rights community to a human rights defender who has shown deep commitment and has faced great personal to advance human rights. The aim of the award is to highlight the work of the nominees and protect them through increased visibility.
The first nominee, Robert Sann Aung, a human rights defender from Myanmar, has courageously fought against human rights abuses in his country since 1974. For the past four decades, he has faced harassment from government authorities for his activism and work as a human rights lawyer providing legal services and advice, often pro bono, to people whose rights have been violated. He is regularly threatened, has been repeatedly imprisoned in harsh conditions, has been physically attacked, and was disbarred from 1993 – 2012. Since regaining his license to practice law, he has represented jailed child soldiers, individuals protesting at a contested copper mine, peaceful political protesters, individuals whose land was confiscated by the military, as well as student activists.
The second nominee is Guinean human rights defender Asmaou Diallo. In September of 2009, the Guinean military attacked peaceful demonstrators killing more than 150 protestors, including Diallo’s son, raping more than 100 women, and injuring hundreds more. Diallo committed herself to obtaining justice for the victims of these crimes, founding l’Association des Parents et Amis des Victimes du 28 septembre 2009, that has supported witnesses as they provided information and testimony to court proceedings and provides medical and vocational support to victims of sexual assault, many of whom cannot return to their homes. As a result or her organization’s work, eleven people have been charged for crimes related to September 2009, including senior army officers.
The final nominee, Ahmed Mansoor from the United Arab Emirates, is a human rights defender working to advance freedom of expression and civil society. Since 2006, Mansoor has been one of the few voices within the United Arab Emirates to provide a credible independent assessment of human rights developments. He regularly raises concerns on arbitrary detention, torture, international standards for fair trials, non-independence of the judiciary, and domestic laws that violate international law. Following his 2006 campaign to support two people who were jailed for criticizing the government on social media, the defendants were released and the charges dropped. Shortly after, the Prime Minister of UAE issued an order not to jail journalists in relation to their work. Mansoor was sentenced to three years in prison in 2011 for insulting the regime on his blog and since then has been denied a passport and banned from leaving the country.
The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is a unique collaboration among ten of the world’s leading human rights organizations to give protection to human rights defenders worldwide. The Jury is composed of the following NGOs: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, International Federation for Human Rights, World Organisation Against Torture, Front Line Defenders, International Commission of Jurists, EWDE Germany, International Service for Human Rights, and HURIDOCS. The award will be presented on October 6th at a ceremony hosted by the City of Geneva.
For further information, please contact: Michael Khambatta +41 79 474 8208 or kha[email protected], or visit www.martinennalsaward.org