Thursday, December 10, 2009


There are billions of people who, by doing nothing, have done more to advance global peace than the American President, in Oslo accepting a peace prize today. Of the thousands of individuals who have devoted and risked their lives to struggling for a more peaceful world, ten who would have made exceptional Nobel laureates in place of the latest war criminal to receive the award.

Aminatu Haidar- Western Sahara
Since she was twenty-three years old Aminatu Haidar has been a leader in the non-violent struggle on behalf of the human and political rights of the people of her Moroccan occupied homeland. Despite multiple arrests, torture, a four year forced disappearance in her twenties, public beatings, and lengthy imprisonments Haidar has remained steadfast in her devote to peaceful methods of change, causing her to be dubbed the Gandhi of the Sahara. Nominated by the American Friends Service Committee in 2008 for the Nobel Peace Prize and a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, her work has earned international distinction. Last month as she attempted to return from the U.S where she was accepting the Civil Courage Award Moroccan authorities seized her travel documents and deported her against her will and without her passport to Spain, which has refused to allow her to leave the country without a passport. In response she announced her intent to fast to the death if the illegal actions of Rabat and Madrid are not reversed. Nearly four weeks into her hunger strike the situation remains unresolved. As Barack Obama accepts a Nobel Prize in Norway a genuine advocate of peace is nearing death at Lanzarote Airport in the Canary Islands.

Noam Chomsky- U.S
A summary of Noam Chomsky's work would be impossible. For decades he has been the global peace and justice movement's preeminent intellectual. The formidable intellect that revolutionized linguistics is equally formidable in defending human rights. In a world where propaganda is typically a more powerful weapon than blunt force there is no greater menace to the interests of power than the well reasoned and forceful attacks of Noam Chomsky on the abuses of the establishment. Though ignored entirely by the mainstream U.S media Chomsky's work has made him an icon of hope both in his home country and abroad. It is difficult to imagine a world without the forceful morality and powerful intellect of Professor Chomsky. He has done more to subvert oppressive power structures than perhaps anyone else in the second half of the twentieth century.

Ghassan Andoni/ISM- Palestine
Faced with daily occupation and oppression by a racist, colonial army, many Palestinians have embraced violent resistance. Ghassan Andoni sees that strategy as counterproductive. It gives the enemy a propaganda tool, provides a pretext for further aggression, and marginalizes the nascent Israeli peace movement. The two conditions that must be reached for the occupation to end, Andoni argues, is for its price to exceed its benefits and for an anti-colonial movement to emerge from within the colonial power. In 1987 Andoni put those principles into action with the foundation of the International Solidarity Movement, a nonviolent Palestinian resistance organization composed of Israeli, Palestinian, and international volunteers. That work has come at price, several of the ISM's 4,000 members have been killed or seriously injured by the Israeli military, but it has also worked to undermine the occupation, both on the ground, and in the eyes of the world.

Abdul Sattar Edhi- Pakistan
In 1951 Abdul Ehdi received basic medical training from a doctor and spent his savings on a tiny dispensary to provide free care and a building to house literacy classed. Devoting himself absolutely to the poor Dr. Edhi spent his nights sleeping on a concrete bench outside the dispensary to be able to assist all he needed help whenever they needed it. As Edhi's work gained recognition his tiny charitable operations began expanding, eventually becoming the Edhi Foundation but his spirit of compassion never changed. Over fifty years later he remains an indefatigable servant of humanity, on call 24/7, counseling victims of abuse, presiding over one of the world's largest charities, speaking out against injustice, and even begging for the poor on the streets.

Malalai Joya/RAWA- Afghanistan
A Woman Among Warlords is how Malalai Joya entitled her biography. For good reason. Afghanistan's youngest MP until she was suspended from parliament for condemning warlordism, Joya is perhaps Afghanistan's most popular politician. She and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan have devoted themselves to fighting both the Taliban and the foreign occupation. Joya is confident she will not die in her bed. She travels around Kabul secretly, changing safehouses often under the protection of an armed guard. The warlords who she so passionately denounced threatened to rape her in the parliament building, she has received numerous death threats, but she has not been intimidated into abandoning her struggle for secular democracy and womens' rights. Few other people have so courageously and selflessly defended human rights.

Baltasar Garzón- Spain
No one has done more to intimidate and deter war criminal than Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón. Because Spanish law embraces universal jurisdiction, the idea that some crimes are so serious any nation may prosecute them, Garzón has had a free hand to investigate and indict the perpetrators of crimes against humanity. His work led to the indictment of former Chilean dictator Gen. Augosto Pinochet. American, Argentine, and Spanish tortures, murderers, and Genocidaires have all been targeted by this courageous judge. Though politically embarrassing to his government Garzón has made enormous contribution in deterring future atrocities.

Denis Mukwege- Congo
Denis Mukwege's father was a priest. As a boy he resolved to become a doctor so that he could heal the sick his father prayed for. Today he works eighteen hour shifts treating victims of gang rape in the world's most deadly conflict. Despite numerous threats on his life Dr. Mukwege continues to tirelessly and selflessly devote himself to treating the neglected victims of the Congo's civil war, providing treatment to the victims of war and hope to all of humanity.

Hu Jia- China
There are few Chinese issues Hu Jia has not been involved in. Environmental activism, AIDS awareness, human rights, and political liberalization have all been championed by Hu. Instead of recognition that work has earned him the attention of the security services. Today he is serving a three and a half year sentence for "inciting subversion of state power and the socialist system". His crime: interviews with foreign media and articles posted online critical of his government.

Ragıp Zarakolu- Turkey
Ragip Zarakolu's childhood interactions with members of Turkey's Greek and Armenian minorities left a deep impression on the young Turk. In his twenties he became a vocal human rights activist, and in 1971, a prisoner of conscience for his unauthorized dealings with Amnesty International. His journalism, exposing and condemning human rights abuses, brought him to prison three more times before the conclusion of the decade. After forty years, some in prison, Zarakolu's crusade continues. Despite endless legal proceedings and threats from right-wing organizations he continues to champion human and minority rights and reconciliation among Turkey's ethnic groups. His publishing house is a pillar of dissident circles.

Piedad Córdoba- Columbia
In war torn Columbia opposition Sen. Piedad Córdoba consistently offers a voice of peace, as well as an advocate of gender, racial, and sexual equality. As a advocate of an end to the long running conflict between the government and FARC rebels she has endured treason charges and a kidnapping, but has preserved in her pursuit of a peaceful end to the fighting that has devastated her home country.

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