The European Union in Myanmar today paid tribute to the outstanding work of three Myanmar personalities who dedicated their lives to promoting peace, human rights, rule of law and gender equality in their communities. Gender and peace activist Daw Nang Pu, peace advocate U Aung Kyaw Moe, and human rights defender U Robert Sann Aung received the 2019 Schuman Awards. Now in its third year, the Schuman Awards recognise outstanding merits in the promotion of universal values of democracy, rule of law, peace and human rights.
Nang Pu and her non-profit Htoi Gender and Development Foundation have been assisting the many women affected by the decades-long conflict in Kachin. She is a vocal advocate for justice for survivors of sexual violence in conflict and of human trafficking. For her role in a peaceful protest in support of internally displaced persons in late 2018 she currently serves a 6-months prison sentence in Myitkyina, Kachin State.
Aung Kyaw Moe, a young Rohingya human rights advocate, left a promising career abroad to return to his native Rakhine State and work with youth from all ethnic communities for a peaceful and more prosperous future. His Centre for Social Integrity has not only provided essential humanitarian aid to thousands of families after the 2017 Rakhine crisis, but engages young people from the Rohingya, Rakhine and other ethnicities to become peace builders in their communities. “The future belongs to youth, and they should shape what they think is the best for them. Our goal is for young people to not only be claiming their rights but becoming accountable citizens,” he says.
Robert Sann Aung has dedicated his career as a lawyer to the fight for justice for victims of human rights abuses. His often sensitive cases, defending victims of sexual abuse, child soldiers, political prisoners and student activists, often exposed him to much public criticism and even threats against his life. "I feel I am an activist and a lawyer at the same time. They are both ways of protecting people."
"The award we give tonight is in admiration for your courage. Tonight's winners are three outstanding personalities who have decided to speak up for those who have no voice; those who are vulnerable; those demanding respect for basic human rights, not for themselves, but for their fellow human beings," said EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt at the Schuman Award ceremony in Yangon on 14 February 2019.
The Schuman Awards were first launched in 2017 at the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaty, one of the founding documents of the European Union. The Awards were initiated to draw more attention on the important work of those who dedicate their lives to promoting democracy, rule of law, peace and human rights in Myanmar, and to help create a network of like-minded professionals and activists within Myanmar and beyond its borders.
The first Schuman Awardees in 2017 were NLD lawyer U Ko Ni (post-humous), director of the Nyein (Shalom) Foundation Daw Ja Nan Lataw and U Aung Myo Min, executive director of Equality Myanmar.
In 2018, the year of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Schuman Awards were dedicated to three human rights advocates: Ko Swe Win, chief editor of Myanmar Now; human rights activist Cheery Zahau and women's rights activist Daw Khin Than Htwe.