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Myanmar rights activist gets John Humphrey award

Su Su Nway had courageously challenged junta's use of forced labour and won a historic court ruling against the regime last year.

india Updated: Sep 05, 2006 14:43 IST

Su Su Nway, who courageously challenged Myanmar's ruling military junta's use of forced labour and won a historic court ruling against the regime last year, has been named winner of this year's John Humphrey Freedom Award.

Nway, 34, grabbed world attention last year for her inspiring individual efforts to see the junta's representatives in her village brought to justice for forcing her and her neighbours to repair a road without pay, a statement said.

Conscious of the dangers inherent to confronting Myanmar's military authorities, Nway's determination paid off when a judge sentenced the village chairman and a deputy to eight months in prison under an untested law passed in 1999 that banned compulsory labour.

The verdict was the first ever against the military regime's long-standing practice of forced labour.

"I feel very encouraged. The award is like tonic that will help me work even harder," the Democratic Voice of Burma quoted Nway as saying.

"I will increase my efforts and struggle for democracy and human rights in Myanmar," she said.

Rights and Democracy presents the Humphrey award each year to an organisation or individual for exceptional achievement in the promotion of human rights and democratic development.

The award is named after John Peters Humphrey, a McGill University law professor who prepared the first draft of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

First Published: Sep 05, 2006 14:43 IST