An Indian social worker, a Myanmar activist and a Filipino environmentalist were among the six recipients of this year's Ramon Magsaysay Awards, Asia's equivalent to the Nobel Prize, organisers announced on Monday.
Indian Deep Joshi, 62, was hailed for his "vision and leadership in bringing professionalism to the non-government-organisation movement in India".
Ka Hsaw Wa, 39, was cited for his dauntless pursuit of non-violent yet effective channels for redress, exposure and education for the defence of human rights, the environment and democracy in Myanmar.
As a 17-year-old activist in the anti-dictatorship demonstrations of 1988, he was arrested and tortured for three days by the military. After his arrest, he exposed atrocities committed by the military against villagers.
"Instead of taking up arms as an insurgent as he planned, he would take up the pen, record the abuses and find a way to get these stories out into the world," the organisers said.
Filipino lawyer-environmentalist Antonio Oposa Junior, 54, was hailed for "his path-breaking and passionate crusade to engage Filipinos in acts of enlightened citizenship that maximise the power of law to protect and nurture the environment".
Chinese Ma Jun, 41, was recognised for "harnessing the technology and power of information to address China's water crisis and mobilising pragmatic, multi-sectoral and collaborative efforts to ensure sustainable benefits for China's environment and society".
Yu Xiaogang, 52, also from China, was awarded for "fusing the knowledge and tools of social science with a deep sense of social justice" to assist residents adversely affected by various dam projects.
Thailand's Krisana Kraisintu, 57, was cited for "placing pharmaceutical rigor at the service of the patients through her untiring and fearless dedication to producing much-needed generic drugs in Thailand and elsewhere in the developing world".
Carmencita Abella, president of the Ramon Masaysay Awards Foundation, said this year's awardees "are true Asian heroes, putting their advanced knowledge and skills at the service of the critical needs of the people".
"They all refuse to give up, despite the adversity and the opposition," she said. "These six awardees share a greatness of spirit which infuses their leadership for change."
The Ramon Magsaysay Awards, Asia's most prestigious, were established in 1957 in memory of Philippine president Ramon Magsaysay, who died in a plane crash that same year.