Civil rights activist Binayak Sen, recently freed on bail by the Supreme Court in a sedition case, has been honoured with the 2011 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights, South Korea's most prestigious award for those working on peace, democracy and justice in Asia.
The award was announced on Thursday by the 2011 Gwangju Prize Committee in Seoul.The prize, which carries a sum of $50,000 is awarded each year on May 18 - on the anniversary of the May 1980 Gwangju democratic uprising - to a person or organisation who has made significant contributions in the field of human rights and democracy.
“Dr Sen, as an accomplished medical practitioner has distinguished himself by his devotion to providing health services for the poor and by his strong advocacy against human rights violations and structural violence inflicted on the poor,” the award jury said in a statement on the website of May 18 Memorial Foundation.
“He has also been active in the People's Union for Civil Liberties documenting human rights violations occurring during the anti-Naxalite conflict,” it said.
The jury this year received 32 nominations from countries all around Asia. Xanana Gusmao, the leader of the East Timore struggle for independence was the first awardee of the Gwangju Prize when it was launched in 2000, while Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi won it in 2004. Irom Sharmila, the Manipuri human rights activist, is the previous Indian winner of the Gwangju Prize.