The third annual $1.1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was awarded today toKyaw Hla Aung, a lawyer and activist recognized for his dedication to fighting for equality, education and human rights for the Rohingya people in Myanmar, in the face of persecution, harassment and oppression.
Aung was presented the 2018 Aurora Prize, granted by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, at a ceremony in Armenia. Kyaw Hla Aung was selected as the 2018 Aurora Prize Laureate among 750 nominations submitted from 115 countries.
Vartan Gregorian, Co-Founder of the Aurora Prize and Member of the Selection Committee, commended Aung, stating: “As we remember the horrors and violence experienced by Armenians – especially women and children – on the deportation route during the Genocide, it is with a great sense of responsibility that we stand ready to support Kyaw Hla Aung’s advocacy work that will hopefully lead one day to the enactment of national and international policies to protect and defend the vulnerable. Kyaw Hla Aung is doing tremendous work, at great risk to himself, and exemplifies the far-reaching impact one person can have to galvanize a movement, and to help individuals transform their lives.”
As the 2018 Aurora Prize Laureate, Kyaw Hla Aung will receive a $100,000 grant and the opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by donating the accompanying $1,000,000 award to organizations of his choice. He will donate the award to three international organizations that provide medical aid and assistance to refugees in Myanmar:
• Médecins Sans Frontières (London)
• Malaysian Medical Relief - MERCY Malaysia (Malaysia)
• International Catholic Migration Commission – ICMC (Switzerland, USA)
Kyaw Hla Aung has been working tirelessly for decades, using his legal expertise to appeal for basic human rights for the stateless Rohingya people. His commitment to fight for justice for the hundreds of thousands of Muslim refugees in Myanmar persecuted by the government, and for the children who no longer have access to education, remains stronger than ever. He sacrificed a total of 12 years in prison as a result of his mission, at huge personal cost to his own family.
On being named the 2018 Aurora Prize Laureate, Aung said: “There are severe restrictions on my people. They have lost their courage and faith in themselves, have become illiterate, and, as a result, are penniless. It has been heartbreaking to see my community suffer from such discrimination. The support of the Aurora Prize serves as important recognition for all of the Muslim victims of human rights violations, as the plight of the Rohingya people continues to become more visible to the international public.”
Leading international humanitarian figures and Aurora Prize Selection Committee members, including Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; former foreign minister of Australia and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans; former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo; Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London Lord Ara Darzi; former US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power; and co-founder of Médecins Sans Frontières and former French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, were in Armenia to celebrate the 2018 Aurora Prize Laureate.