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Thailand-based human rights group wins 2013 Asia democracy award

2013/11/04 15:28:59

Taipei, Nov. 4 (CNA) The Thailand-headquartered Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG) has been selected for the 2013 Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award, which is presented each year by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD).

The KHRG, a grassroots, non-government organiztion that operates in southeastern Myanmar, has won the award for its unswerving efforts to help persecuted ethnic minority Karen villagers in rural Myanmar, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who concurrently serves as TFD chairman, announced at a news conference held Monday.

The group was founded in December 1992 by Kevin Heppner, a Canadian teacher who began to document human rights violations suffered by Karen civilians after the ruling Myanmar military junta bombed and destroyed the village where he lived, the TFD said in a press statement.

"Not only does KHRG record human rights violations, it also provides affected communities with documentation, resistance and advocacy skills," the TFD statement said.

An award presentation ceremony will be held at a Taipei hotel Dec. 10 to coincide with International Human Rights Day, Wang said.

The award consists of a sculpture and a US$100,000 grant to support KHRG for its ongoing work to promote and protect human rights.

The TFD said the KHRG has issued 640 reports on human rights violations in Myanmar since its establishment in 1992, making it one of the few organizations in the world to have continually documented human rights abuses in detail.

According to a Wikipedia article, the KHRG has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and is recognized internationally as an authority on major issues such as internal displacement and forced labor in Myanmar.

The organization's goal is to support villagers in rural Myanmar by helping them develop strategies to resist abuse and by translating their testimonies for worldwide distribution, accompanied by supporting photos and documentary evidence, according to Wikipedia.

(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Sofia Wu)