For Immediate Release, October 4, 2006
Contact: Barbara Becker, EqualShot, 212-375-0661
Angolan Human Rights Activist Selected as
Winner of 2006 Civil Courage Prize
Campaigning for an end to corruption and abuse by government and private industry
New York, NY - Rafael Marques, a leading voice for reform of repressive and corrupt policies of both the government and the diamond and oil industries in Angola, will receive the 2006 Civil Courage Prize on October 18.
The Prize of $50,000 honors steadfast resistance to injustice at great personal risk. It has been awarded annually since 2000 by the Northcote Parkinson Fund.
Marques, 35, has spent his career promoting respect for human rights, peace, the democratization of Angola, and freedom of the press.
Since the end of the country's 27-year civil war 4 years ago, he has exposed the practices of Angola's extractive industries, namely diamonds and oil, as well as unchecked plundering of the country's resources.
His newly released exposé, Diamonds of Humiliation and Misery, reports on the tragic impact that diamond extraction has on the lives of local populations and the abuses committed by the industry's private security companies. He reveals the ownership of these companies by the top brass of the Angolan military and the police, including the general-commander of the National Police, Commissar José Alfredo "Ekuikui."
The oil and diamond sectors represent nearly 60% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) of $15.5 billion.
In 1999, Marques was imprisoned for 40 days without charges, ten of them incommunicado, for writing in a newspaper article that President Jose Eduardo dos Santos was responsible "for the destruction of the country" and "accountable for the promotion of incompetence, embezzlement and corruption." His release took place in the wake of wide protests from humanitarian groups worldwide. A subsequent case, presented by the Open Society Justice Initiative and INTERIGHTS to the U.N. Human Rights Committee, resulted in a ruling that Angola had violated the freedom of expression of a journalist, and a call for broad liberalization of the Angolan regime.
Marques, who spends part of his time in Angola researching on human rights issues, has recently been appointed vice-president for Africa for the International Communications Forum, while undertaking anthropological studies at the University of London.
The 2006 Civil Courage Prize Award Ceremony will be held at the Harold Pratt House, 58 E. 68th St. in New York City, on October 18 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.
To read Diamonds of Humiliation and Misery: http://www.cuango.net.
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