Top Amnesty award for Malala Yousafzai

Last Updated 04 May 2018, 11:44 IST

Pakistani schoolgirl and education rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai and American singer, human rights and social justice activist Harry Belafonte were Tuesday named as joint recipients of Amnesty International’s Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2013.

The Ambassador of Conscience Award is the human rights group's highest honour, recognising individuals who have promoted and enhanced the cause of human rights through their life and by example.

The award will  be presented at a ceremony Tuesday evening at the Mansion House in Dublin, Ireland, according to a press statement issued by Amnesty International.

“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 Yousafzai, 16, is an advocate for equal access to education.

After she wrote a diary for the BBC in 2009 detailing her frustrations with the Taliban’s edict to shut down all girls’ schools in Pakistan, she was shot at and severely wounded in an attack in 2012 claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.

Malala will be presented with the Award by singer Bono along with Azar Nafisi, author of the book ‘Reading Lolita in Tehran’. 

“I am truly honoured to receive this award and 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,” Malala said, according to the Amnesty release.

“I hope that by working together we will one day realise our dream of education for every child, in every corner of the world.” 

Co-recipient of the award Harry Belafonte has dedicated his life to humanitarian causes, spanning the civil rights movement to the plight of children caught in Syria’s armed conflict.

An Emmy- and Tony-Award winning musician and entertainer, Harry Belafonte has in innumerable ways acted on what he describes as the “obligation to do more than just entertain”. 

“Since its birth, I have been devoted to the principles for which Amnesty International stands,” Belafonte said after being named for the award.

“It is an honour to receive the recognition being bestowed. Amnesty International’s stand on any universal abuse to human rights has been courageous and is our moral compass," he said.

“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,” the acclaimed musician added.

Roger Waters, earlier with rock band Pink Floyd, will present the award to Belafonte accompanied by a special guest.

The Ambassador of Conscience Award was inspired by the poem 'From the Republic of Conscience', written for Amnesty International by the late poet and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney.

The Irish poet, who passed away Aug 30 this year, was due to read the poem at the asward ceremony Tuesday. 

Among others who have been conferred the Ambassador of Conscience award are former president of the Czech Republic late Vaclav Havel, former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, singer and songwriter Peter Gabriel and Myanmarese pro-democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi.

(Published 17 September 2013, 05:51 IST)

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