For Immediate Release, October 4, 2004
Contact: Barbara Becker, EqualShot, 212-375-0661
Leading Russian Journalist and Burmese Pro-Democracy Campaigner to Receive International Award
Anna Politkovskaya, Russia, and Min Ko Naing, Burma
New York, NY - Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist whose dispatches from the war in Chechnya have led to death threats and poisoning, and Min Ko Naing, a Burmese pro-democracy advocate who endured fifteen years of imprisonment and torture, will receive the 2005 Civil Courage Prize on October 11.
The Civil Courage Prize of $50,000 honors steadfast resistance to injustice at great personal risk. It has been awarded annually since 2000 by the Trustees of the Northcote Parkinson Fund.
Anna Politkovskaya, special correspondent for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and author of three books, reports on the plight of Chechnya's civilian population, which has been under military assault since 1994. She has put herself in danger by openly challenging the authorities. In February of 2000, the FSB (the former KGB) arrested Politkovskaya in Chechnya and imprisoned her in a pit without food or water for three days. In 2001 a Russian officer, whose war crimes Politkovskaya had earlier exposed, threatened to kill her, and she was forced into hiding. As she flew to Beslan in 2004 to report on the school hostage crisis, she lost consciousness and believes that she was poisoned.
Min Ko Naing, a leader of the 1988 peaceful popular uprising against Burma's dictatorship, is a central figure in the Burmese democracy movement. While a student at the University of Rangoon in the 1980s, Min Ko Naing secretly organized a nationwide student union, the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), to oppose army rule. In 1988 ABFSU coordinated a nationwide non-violent uprising. Millions marched throughout Burma demanding an end to decades-long military oppression. The regime responded with force, gunning down thousands. Min Ko Naing evaded the Burmese Military Intelligence for several months before his arrest in 1989. He was released from prison in November 2004 after a fifteen-year imprisonment, during which he underwent torture and solitary confinement.
Min Ko Naing has asked that his portion of the Prize money be donated to a worthy not-for-profit organization. He is under constant government surveillance and is unable to leave Burma. Anna Politkovskaya is expected to receive her award in person.
A posthumous award for civil courage will be bestowed on Munir Said Thalib, an Indonesian human rights activist, who exposed "disappearances," corruption, and other abuses until his murder by arsenic poisoning in September 2004.
The 2005 Award Ceremony will be held at the Harold Pratt House, 58 E 68th St in New York City on October 11 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm. To attend the event as a member of the media, please contact Barbara Becker at 212-375-0661.
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