PRAGUE. A leader of 'Erkindik' (Freedom) party and a head of the Institute for Human Rights and Liberties, Dr. Topchubek Turgunaliev will be honored today by the International League for Human Rights (ILHR) for his outstanding contribution in struggle against authoritarian methods of management in his post-soviet country. According to the
ILHR representative Peter Zalmaev, five human rights activists - from Ireland, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Sierra Leone - will be honored on Dec 9 (at 18.00 in New York time) to mark Defenders' Day at the United Nations. Four of the five - one is jailed in Kazakhstan - are in New York for the awarding ceremony.
"These five heroes have taken unpopular stands, challenged autocrats and lifted their voices on behalf of African women and girls, Chinese people infected with HIV/AIDS, the people of Northern Ireland and citizens resisting authoritarian rule in the former Soviet Union," said Dr. Louise Kantrow, Executive Director of the ILHR.
The five are: Topchubek Turgunaliev, a campaigner for democracy in Kyrgyzstan; Sergei Duvanov, an independent journalist recently detained in Kazakhstan; Don Mullan, a native of Northern Ireland, journalist and author of Eyewitness Bloody Sunday; Christiana Thorpe of Sierra Leone, founder of an organization which empowers African women and girls; and Dr. Wan Yanhai, an HIV/AIDS activist recently released by Chinese authorities who had accused him of disclosing state secrets about a tainted provincial blood supply.
Sergei Duvanov edits the magazine of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law and writes for Internet websites of opposition political parties. In late October he was arrested on sexual assault charges, hours before he was to fly to the United States to speak on press freedom and human rights in Kazakhstan. Duvanov's daughter, Denissa, will accept the award on his behalf. As it was stressed by the ILHR, Topchubek Turgunaliev has been at the forefront of the movement for democracy in Kyrgyzstan for ten years. He founded the Institute for Human Rights and Liberties and helped draft the constitution. Since 1996 he has been imprisoned on several occasions for his political activism promoting democracy and pluralism. Turgunaliev co-founded the Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan in 1990 and helped organize the Prisoners of Conscience Guild.
Defenders' Day, Dec 9 each year, marks the adoption by the U.N. General Assembly in 1998 of the Defenders' Declaration, reinforcing the right of individuals and groups to promote and protect the rights of others. It falls on the day before the Dec 10 anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the U.N. General Assembly in 1948.