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Norway’s Rafto Prize goes to Bahraini group

Norway's Rafto Foundation has awarded its annual prize to one of Bahrain's most prominent human rights groups, in recognition of its non-violent protests and documentation of human rights violations.

Norway's Rafto Prize goes to Bahraini group
Bahrain protests in 2011 - Al Jazeera English
The foundation on Thursday gave the award to the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, saying that it hoped it would "turn the spotlight on systematic violations of human rights in a region where abuse is too often met with silence from Western governments." 
 
"In Bahrain, a wave of protests arose at the same time as the Arab Spring," the foundation's statement read. "And since they started in 2011 the protests have been met with an increasingly harder hand by the authorities."
 
The annual Rafto award was founded in 1986 in memory of Norwegian economic history professor Thorolf Rafto, a longtime human rights activist.
 
The $20,000 prize, which is often awarded to relatively unknown human rights defenders, will be presented on November 3 in the western Norwegian
town of Bergen.
 
Four past Rafto Prize laureates — Aung San Suu Kyi, Jose Ramos-Horta, Kim Dae-Jung and Shirin Ebadi — went on to win to Nobel Peace Prize, whose laureate for 2013 will be announced in Oslo on October 11.The Rafto Prize jury commended the rights group for continuing its efforts, despite government attempts to shut it down.

 
In 2011 the small Gulf state of Bahrain– ruled by the Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy — was shaken by an uprising by the majority Shiite population, calling for democratic reform.
 
Protesters were met with overwhelming military force leading to at least 89 deaths, according to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
 
Awarding the prize, the Rafto Foundation pointed out that systematic repression continues and that insulting Bahrain's king or the national flag
could result in a five-year prison sentence.
 

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NOBEL

‘No question’ of stripping Suu Kyi of Nobel Peace Prize: Norway committee

Norway's Nobel Institute said Wednesday it had no intention of withdrawing its Peace Prize from Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi after a damning UN report termed the treatment of the Rohingya people as "genocide."

'No question' of stripping Suu Kyi of Nobel Peace Prize:  Norway committee
Aung San Suu Kyi's husband Michael Aris and their sons Kim and Alexander Aris accept her Nobel Prize for her in 1991. Photo: Bjørn Sigurdsøn/NTB Scapix
“There is no question of the Nobel Committee withdrawing the peace prize,” director Olav Njolstad said. “The rules of the Nobel Peace Prize do not allow it,” he added.
   
A UN probe released Monday detailed evidence of genocide and crimes against humanity “perpetrated on a massive scale” against the Rohingya, including acts of rape, sexual violence and mass killings. 
   
At a UN Security Council session on Tuesday, a number of countries — including the United States, Britain, France and Sweden — called for Myanmar's military leaders to be held accountable. 
   
Suu Kyi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 when she was detained by the military for championing democracy and human rights.
   
She was only allowed to leave Myanmar to recieve the award 21 years later as the military apparently eased its iron grip on the country.
   
As the Rohingya crisis has deepened in the past year with the flight of hundreds of thousands to neighbouring Bangladesh, Suu Kyi has come under increasing international pressure to speak out about their plight.
   
So far however she has said very little and steadfastly avoided any critical comment of Myanmar's military.
   
The Nobel Peace Prize committee had warned last year about the worsening situation in Myanmar and had urged all parties to do “everything possible to end discrimination against and persecution of minorities.”
   
Njolstad repeated that statement, adding: “This call is not any less timely after the UN report.”
   
The Myanmar government on Wednesday bluntly rejected the UN's findings.
   
“We didn't allow the (UN Fact-Finding Mission) to enter into Myanmar, that's why we don't agree and accept any resolutions made by the Human Rights Council,” government spokesman Zaw Htay said, according to the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper. 
   
He pointed to the formation of Myanmar's own Independent Commission of Enquiry, which he said was set up to respond to “false allegations made by UN agencies and other international communities.”