Malala receives top Amnesty award
18 September, 2013
LONDON: Rights group Amnesty International announced on Tuesday it had awarded its highest honour to Malala Yousafzai, the teen shot in the head last year by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education.
Malala will share the 2013 Ambassador of Conscience Award with American singer and human rights activist Harry Belafonte, the London-based NGO revealed.
The award, which recognises "individuals who have promoted and enhanced the cause of human rights through their life and by example", will be presented by Irish rock singer Bono at a ceremony in Dublin, Ireland, on Tuesday.
"Our two new Ambassadors of Conscience are different from each other in many ways, but they share a dedication to the fight for human rights everywhere and for all," said Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International.
"Harry and Malala are truly Ambassadors of Conscience, speaking up for universal rights, justice and human dignity and inspiring others to follow their example."
Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban on a school bus last October, an attack that drew worldwide condemnation. She was flown to Britain for surgery for her head injuries and returned to school in Birmingham in March.
The 16-year-old said she was "truly honoured" to receive the award.
"I would like to take the opportunity to remind everyone that there are many millions of children like me across the world who fight every single day for their right to go to school," she added.
"I hope that by working together we will one day realise our dream of education for every child, in every corner of the world."
Emmy award winner Belafonte paid tribute to his co-winner.
"I am especially honoured to receive the Ambassador of Conscience Award because I am having the distinction of sharing this with Malala Yousafzai, a true hero of our time," he said.
"My admiration for her is unending. She has awakened many in the global family to a commitment in struggle against tyranny. For all this I remain eternally grateful."
Meanwhile, Malala has also been nominated for a European human rights prize whose past winners include Nelson Mandela and Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Fugitive US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden and Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, who has been convicted of money-laundering, tax evasion and fraud are also in the run for the award.
Snowden, who is in hiding in Russia, is one of seven nominations made by members of the European Parliament for the Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought, a move likely to upset Washington which wants to try him on espionage charges.
Snowden was nominated by the Greens in the European Parliament who said he had done an "enormous service" for human rights and European citizens by disclosing secret US Internet and telephone surveillance programmes.
"Edward Snowden has risked his freedom to help us protect ours and he deserves to be honoured for shedding light on the systematic infringements of civil liberties by US and European secret services," Rebecca Harms and Dany Cohn-Bendit, the leaders of the left-leaning Greens, said in a statement.
Revelations that the US National Security Agency monitors vast quantities of email and telephone data of both Americans and foreigners, and a report that Washington spied on the European Union has caused outrage in European capitals.
The European Parliament's committees vote on a shortlist of three finalists on September 30. The winner will be chosen by parliamentary leaders on October 10.