Saturday 20 January 2018

Teen shot by Taliban, Malala Yousafzai, to receive award in Dublin

Malala Yousafzai
Malala Yousafzai

Ed Carty

A teenager who was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan after campaigning for women's rights will follow in the footsteps of some of the world's greatest campaigners when she is honoured today by Amnesty International.

Malala Yousafzai, an advocate for equal access to education, will be named Ambassador of Conscience at a ceremony in Dublin, joining the likes of Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela.

"I am truly honoured to receive this award and would like to take the opportunity to remind everyone that there are many millions of children like me across the world who fight every single day for their right to go to school," the teenager said.

"I hope that by working together we will one day realise our dream of education for every child, in every corner of the world."

The 16-year-old schoolgirl was flown from Pakistan to the UK for emergency treatment last October after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman.

She was targeted by the Taliban after campaigning for girls' right to attend school.

Surgeons who treated her said she came within inches of death when a bullet grazed her brain.

The American singer Harry Belafonte will be given the same award at a ceremony in the Mansion House in Dublin for his work on human rights and social justice.

"Since its birth, I have been devoted to the principles for which Amnesty International stands. It is an honour to receive the recognition being bestowed," Belafonte said.

"Amnesty International's stand on any universal abuse to human rights has been courageous and is our moral compass."

The singer described Malala as "a true hero of our time".

"My admiration for her is unending. She has awakened many in the global family to a commitment in the struggle against tyranny. For all this I remain eternally grateful," he said.

The ceremony will be attended by U2's Bono and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters.

The Ambassador of Conscience award is human rights group's most prestigious award and recipients are selected for showing exceptional leadership in the fight to protect and promote human rights and conscience.

Amnesty said this year's winners have "used their individual voice to speak out on the part of many and, while separated by age, background and geography, they are united in their dedication to using education and art to overcome ignorance and brutality".

Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International, said Malala and Belafonte are different in many ways but share a dedication to the fight for human rights everywhere and for all.

"Harry and Malala are truly Ambassadors of Conscience, speaking up for universal rights, justice and human dignity and inspiring others to follow their example," he said.

The award was inspired by a poem written for Amnesty by the late Seamus Heaney, called From the Republic of Conscience, and it aims to promote Amnesty's work by association with the life, work and example of its ambassadors.

The Nobel laureate, who died suddenly at the end of last month, had been due to attend the ceremony and read the poem.

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