Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Karen Activist Wins Ramon Magsaysay Award

An ethnic Karen human rights activist from Burma has won the 2009 Ramon Magsaysay Award for “dauntlessly pursuing non-violent yet effective channels of redress, exposure, and education for the defense of human rights, the environment, and democracy in Burma," according to the awards committee.

Ka Hsaw Wa is one of six winners of the award, which is presented annually to those “who address issues of human development in Asia with courage and creativity, and in doing so have made contributions which have transformed their societies for the better,” according to the Board of Trustees of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF).
Ka Hsaw Wa (Photo: ERI)

The Ramon Magsaysay Award was first created in 1957 and was named after the popular Filipino president who was highly respected for his humility and service to humanity.

Ka Hsaw Wa is the co-founder of an international environmental organization known as EarthRights International. He becomes the second Karen activist to win the illustrious award.

The first Karen winner was Cynthia Maung who founded the Mae Tao Clinic in the Thai border town of Mae Sot. She was awarded the prize in 2002 for “Community Leadership.”

Another of the six prize winners for 2009, Krisana Kraisintu from Thailand, is being recognized for “her untiring and fearless dedication to producing much-needed generic drugs in Thailand and elsewhere in the developing world.”

The other awardees are: two Chinese, Yu Xiaogang and Ma Jun; a Filipino environmental activist, Antonio Oposa Jr; and Deep Joshi, an Indian who has been recognized for combining “head and heart in the transformative development of rural communities.”

The winners of the 2009 Ramon Magsaysay awards will each receive a certificate, a medallion bearing a likeness of the late Filipino president, and a cash prize. The Magsaysay Award ceremony will be held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on August 31, according to the RMAF.

RMAF President Carmencita T Abella said, “The Magsaysay awardees of 2009 are true Asian heroes, putting their advanced knowledge and skills at the service of the critical needs of their people.”

Abella said that each of the awardees are addressing major issues affecting the growth and preservation of their respective societies, such as health care, mass poverty, community displacement, environmental degradation and human rights.

“They are each using calibrated strategies to craft lasting solutions to spirit which infuses their leadership for change. They all refuse to give up, despite adversity and opposition,” said Abella.

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