Mahatma Gandhi International Award For Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi, the Myanmarese pro-democracy activist and leader, was awarded the Mahatma Gandhi International Award for Reconciliation and Peace in Durban.
The award is given annually by the Gandhi Development Trust, an organisation started in 2002 by Ela Gandhi, a granddaughter of the Mahatma.
Aung San joins the ranks of personalities like Nelson Mandela, who was the recipient last year. Her award was accepted by the Myanmarese Prime Minister in exile, Sean Win, who is based in Washington. Aung San is currently under house arrest in Myanmar.
Win said Aung San would accept the award on behalf of the suffering people of Myanmar under the repressive military rule there, likening it to the system that prevailed during the apartheid era in South Africa where a white minority introduced repressive laws to subjugate the majority.
"We decided that Aung San was a deserving winner because of her courage and fearlessness in opposing the unjust regime in Burma," Ela Gandhi said.
"We also made six awards to largely unsung South African heroes and heroines of the struggle against apartheid," she added.
The recipients of the Satyagraha Awards, instituted in 2003 to mark the centenary of the Indian Opinion, the newspaper started here by then lawyer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, were selected from the many nominations and motivations submitted to the Trust.
This year's recipients were the late Mama Luthuli, a pioneer of organizing women's groups during the apartheid era; Britain-based Hanif Bhamjee, founder of the anti-apartheid movement there which still supports projects among the poor in South Africa; Rajes Pillay, one of the first Indian women to join the military wing of the ANC in exile, Umkhonto Wesizwe; Richard Steele, who organised white resistance to conscription by the minority government in apartheid South Africa; Paul David, who was a champion for non-racial sport when it was segregated in apartheid days; and the late Kernick Ndlovu, who started one of the first trade unions in South Africa.
"This project is helping to build up a history of the many people who worked quietly in the background as the foot soldiers of the anti-apartheid movement and whose work has largely gone unrecorded," Gandhi said.
The Trust also organises an annual Salt March here to symbolically commemorate the historic event by Mahatma Gandhi in India.