Eastern Europe

EU’s 2019 Schuman Awards pay tribute to gender, peace, and human rights champions in Myanmar

Yangon, 14/02/2019 - 17:08, UNIQUE ID: 190214_17
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Gender and peace activist Daw Nang Pu, peace advocate U Aung Kyaw Moe, and human rights defender U Robert Sann Aung today received the 2019 Schuman Awards in Myanmar at the EU Residence in Yangon.

Gender and peace activist Daw Nang Pu, peace advocate U Aung Kyaw Moe, and human rights defender U Robert Sann Aung today received the 2019 Schuman Awards in Myanmar at the EU Residence in Yangon.

The European Union in Myanmar gives the annual Schuman Awards to recognise outstanding merits in the promotion of universal values of democracy, rule of law, peace and human rights. Now on its third year, the Schuman Awards pay tribute to personalities who dedicate their lives and careers to their communities and whose courageous personal engagement has a tangible impact on the lives of their fellow community members, often away from the limelight of public attention.

In his speech during the Schuman Awards ceremony, EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt said, “If you want light, you must protect those who carry the flame – those whose light shines brightly from inside a prison cell or in house arrest. The people of Myanmar know this better than I do. If you wish to end war and violence, you must have the courage to stand with those who rise against it. They should not walk alone.”

Daw Nang Pu, who currently serves a 6-months prison sentence in Myitkyina for her role in a peaceful protest in support of internally displaced persons in late 2018, has been assisting in particular the many women affected by the decades-long conflict in Kachin and is a vocal advocate for justice for survivors of sexual violence in conflict and of human trafficking. Her sister in law, Daw Nan Bawk, accepted the award on her behalf.

Ko Aung Kyaw Moe's 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 all ethnic communities 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.”

U 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."

EU Ambassador Kristian Schmidt said that while Myanmar (formerly Burma) was among the founding nations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, it continues to fight to this day for basic human rights, dignity and freedom from fear.

“The Schuman Award is given every year as recognition of those who dare carry the flame for others. 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,” he said.

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.

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The Schuman Awards are named after Robert Schuman, a former French foreign minister and one of the visionaries who contributed to the foundation of the European Union.

Nang Pu, Director of the Htoi Gender and Development Foundation and founder of the Kachin State Women’s Network, dedicated her life to the fight for women’s rights and peace in her native Kachin State. A steering committee member of the Alliance for Gender Inclusion in the Peace Process and tireless advocate for a meaningful participation of women in the peace process, Nang Pu speaks up for justice for the many women survivors of sexual violence in conflict and works with internally displaced people across Kachin State advocating for their access to basic services and humanitarian assistance. She founded the Htoi Gender and Development Foundation to empower women to claim equal treatment in their communities and to defend their rights. Htoi works with survivors of human trafficking, often assisting in the women’s rescuing, offering psychological counselling and legal support, and providing vocational training to help them re-build their lives.

On 7 December 2018, the Myitkyina township court convicted Nang Pu, along with lawyer Lum Zawng, and Zau Jat of the Kachin National Social Development Foundation, of defaming the Myanmar military under Section 500 of the Penal Code for their involvement in peaceful protests that called on the Myanmar government to end the decade-long conflict in Kachin State and to assist civilians trapped in the conflict zone. The three activists were sentenced to six months in prison and each fined 500,000 MMK. Nang Pu is currently serving her prison sentence in Myitkyina.

The European Union in Myanmar is honoring Daw Nang Pu’s outstanding commitment to peace and women’s rights with the 2019 Schuman Award, recognizing her immense personal sacrifices and tireless efforts in standing up for some of the most vulnerable members of society. The Schuman Award has been handed over to Daw Nang Pu's representative, her sister-in-law Daw Nan Bawk, by the Ambassador of Denmark, H.E. Mr John Nielsen.

Robert Sann Aung, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Hygienic Legal Clinic in Yangon, is an activist, former political prisoner and human rights lawyer who dedicated his career to the fight for justice for victims of human rights abuses. Since 1974, Robert Sann Aung has himself been imprisoned no less than six times for his peaceful political activism. He has been disbarred from 1993 to 2012, physically attacked numerous times, and he continues to this date to face threats against his life for his courageous human rights activism. He has provided legal services to and defended, often pro bono, Myanmar’s most marginalised, including political protestors, child soldiers and student activists. Robert Sann Aung does not shy away from high-profile cases and defending clients on sensitive issues concerning child labour or the unlawful confiscation of land. A long-standing advocate for rule of law and democracy, Robert Sann Aung has proven to be one of Myanmar’s loudest voices for positive change and equal rights for all.

The European Union in Myanmar is recognizing U Robert Sann Aung’s outstanding merits in defending human rights and promoting justice and the rule of law in Myanmar over more than four decades with the 2019 Schuman Award. The Schuman Award has been handed over to Robert Sann Aung by the Ambassador of the Czech Republic, H.E. Mr Jaroslav Doleček.

Aung Kyaw Moe, Founder of the Centre for Social Integrity (CSI), is a Rohingya human rights advocate and strong proponent for peace among the conflict affected communities in Myanmar’s Rakhine State. After spending years as a humanitarian worker in Afghanistan, Thailand and Liberia, Aung Kyaw Moe returned to Myanmar in 2016. His non-governmental organization CSI promotes diversity, pluralism and inclusion by training Rohingya, Rakhine and other ethnic youth to become peace builders and help foster sustainable socio-economic development in their communities. A strong voice for inter-community dialogue, Aung Kaw Moe offers platforms for reconciliation and helps build a network of young changemakers among the next generation who lead their communities towards a more peaceful coexistence where diversity is seen as an opportunity rather than a threat.

After the 2017 violence in northern Rakhine, Aung Kyaw Moe’s CSI delivered humanitarian assistance to thousands of affected families, stepping in for larger aid organization that were blocked from accessing the area.

The European Union is paying tribute to Aung Kyaw Moe’s outstanding engagement for peace, human rights and non-discrimination in his native Rakhine State with the 2019 Schuman Award. Through his visionary work with youth from different ethnic communities Aung Kyaw Moe gives hope for lasting peace and a more prosperous future to a young generation that has long been suffering from poverty and conflict. The Schuman Award has been handed over to Aung Kyaw Moe by the Ambassador of Italy, H.E. Mrs Alessandra Schiavo.

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