For Immediate Release: April 2, 2012
GENEVA – Former Swiss President and newly-appointed Chair of the Martin Ennals Foundation, Micheline Calmy-Rey, today announced the nominees for the 2012 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) at a press conference at the Palais Eynard, Geneva, Switzerland. The MEA is the main award of the international human rights movement.
The announcement and press conference will be streamed 11:00 -11:30hrs Geneva time on http://www.martinennalsaward.org/
The three nominees for the 2012 award are:
Venerable Luon Sovath, Cambodia. In March 2009, Luon Sovath, a Buddhist monk from Siem Reap, Cambodia witnessed his family and fellow villagers being forcibly evicted from their homes. Forced evictions remove families from their homes, often with no compensation. Despite threats of violence, arrest and disrobing, the venerable Sovath, a non-violent Buddhist monk, uses videos, poems and songs to defend the right to housing, but his advocacy touches powerful economic interests. The threats against the venerable Sovath are very real.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, a woman lawyer from Iran, is currently serving an 11-year sentence on charges of ‘spreading propaganda against the State’, ‘collusion and gathering with the aim of acting against national security’ and ‘membership in an illegal organization’. She is the former lawyer and member of the organization of the now-exiled Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, who declares Sotoudeh is ‘one of the last remaining courageous human rights lawyers who has accepted all risks for defending the victims of human rights violations in Iran’.
The Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) is internationally recognized for its work on documenting human rights abuses in Bahrain. Despite harassment by the government, who warn of legal action against the Center’s members if they continue their activities, the BCHR provides information to international NGOs and the diplomatic community in Bahrain and advocates locally and internationally in support of demands for democratic change in the Gulf Kingdom.
The nominees were carefully selected by ten human rights organizations which make up the Martin Ennals Award Jury: Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, the International Federation for Human Rights, the World Organisation Against Torture, Frontline, the International Commission of Jurists, German Diakonie, the International Service for Human Rights and HURIDOCS.
“The work of human rights defenders throughout the world over the last year has been astonishing- in the risks they take, the range of issues they work on, and the impact they achieve. These three nominees represent the best of what human rights defender work is about in terms of courage and effectiveness,” said Brian Dooley of Human Rights First.
On 2 October 2012, the Laureate will be announced during the annual ceremony at Victoria Hall, organized in cooperation with the Ville de Genève.