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Human Rights Watch honours seven activists

(Human Rights Watch/IFEX) - New York, August 9, 2011 - Seven courageous and tireless advocates for human rights will be honored in November 2011 with the prestigious Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism, Human Rights Watch said today. These activists from Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Russia, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe work to create a world in which people live free of violence, discrimination, and oppression.

The award is named after Dr. Alison Des Forges, senior adviser to Human Rights Watch's Africa division for almost two decades, who died in a plane crash in New York on February 12, 2009. Des Forges was the world's leading expert on Rwanda, the 1994 genocide, and its aftermath. Human Rights Watch's annual award honors her outstanding commitment to, and defense of, human rights. It celebrates the valor of people who put their lives on the line to protect the dignity and rights of others.

"From the centers of the Arab Spring to many other places where people who speak out are under threat, each of these defenders has shown incredible courage and persistence on behalf of others," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "We honor their strength and efforts, and hope that this award will increase international recognition of the abusive conditions they are trying to change."

The recipients of Human Rights Watch's 2011 Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism are:

• Hossam Bahgat, executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and a prominent voice both before and since the January 2011 uprising in Egypt;
• Sihem Bensedrine, a Tunisian journalist and activist who heads the Arab Working Group for Media Monitoring and serves as a spokesperson for the National Council for Liberties in Tunisia;
• Anis Hidayah, executive director of Migrant Care, a leading Indonesian organization working to protect the rights of millions of migrant workers;
• Farai Maguwu, director of the Center for Research and Development in eastern Zimbabwe and a leading voice against the abuses taking place in the Marange diamond fields;
• Elena Milashina, an investigative journalist for Russia's leading independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta;
• Consuelo Morales, director of Citizens in Support of Human Rights, based in Monterrey, which brings abuses in Mexico's "war on drugs" to light; and
• Sussan Tahmasebi, a civil and women's rights activist from Iran and founding member of the One Million Signatures Campaign to support women's rights.

Human Rights Watch staff members work closely with the human rights defenders as part of the organization's research into some 90 countries around the world. The defenders will be honored at the 2011 Human Rights Watch annual dinners in Amsterdam, Beirut, Chicago, Geneva, Hamburg, London, Los Angeles, Munich, New York, Oslo, Paris, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Toronto, and Zurich.

Click here for more information about the recipients

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