Date :Sunday, October 7th, 2018 | Time : 10:13 |ID: 73303 | Print

Nobel prizes awarded to fighters for sexual violence and human rights

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SHAFAQNADenis Mukwege , the “man who mends women”, and Nadia Murad, a 25-year-old Yazidi activist, are the winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to end the scourge of sexual violence against women.

Mukwege, a gynecologist and surgeon, has long worked to treat thousands of women and girls affected by rape and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Murad is a Yazidi woman from the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, who was held as a sex slave by ISIS, she told CNN in an interview last year. In 2016, at age 23, she was made a UN goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking.

“Both laureates have made a crucial contribution to focusing attention on, and combating, such war crimes,” said Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, as she announced the award Friday at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo.

“Denis Mukwege is the helper who has devoted his life to defending these victims. Nadia Murad is the witness who tells of the abuses perpetrated against herself and others”.

“Each of them in their own way has helped to give greater visibility to wartime sexual violence, so that the perpetrators can be held accountable for their actions.”

Mukwege said he was in the middle of carrying out surgery in his hospital when he learned that he had won the award — and that he dedicated it to all survivors of sexual violence around the world.

“For almost 20 years I have witnessed war crimes committed against women, girls and even baby girls not only in my country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also in many other countries,” he said.

“To the survivors from all over the world, I would like to tell you that through this prize, the world is listening to you and refusing to remain indifferent. The world refuses to sit idly in the face of your suffering.”

He added that he was honored to be named alongside Murad, whom he praised for her strength and courage.

The man who mends women

Mukwege has earned the moniker “The man who mends women” for the work he and his colleagues at Panzi Hospital have done since he founded the clinic in the eastern DRC city of Bukavu 20 years ago.

“Denis Mukwege is the foremost, most unifying symbol, both nationally and internationally, of the struggle to end sexual violence in war and armed conflicts. His basic principle is that ‘justice is everyone’s business,'” said Reiss-Andersen.

Speaking to CNN in 2009, Mukwege described how vital it was for women brutalized in the course of the DRC’s long-running conflict to find support and recognition.

“You just can’t imagine how a smile, a simple handshake, to just tell them ‘be encouraged’ is important to them. To feel they are loved, to feel they can finally find love and affection,” he said.

Murad the 17th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize

Murad becomes the 17th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize and is its second-youngest recipient after Malala Yousafzai.

Reiss-Andersen said Murad had “shown uncommon courage in recounting her own sufferings and speaking up on behalf of other victims.”

Murad was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when she learned she had won the prize. “I hope that it will help bring justice for those women who suffered from sexual violence,” she told a Nobel official.

Speaking to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria last year, Murad described how ISIS attacked her community early on August 3, 2014.

“Nearly 6,500 women and children from the Yazidi were abducted and about 5,000 people from the community were killed during that day,” she said. “For eight months, they separated us from our mothers and our sisters and our brothers, and some of them were killed and others disappeared.”

Murad’s mother and six of her brothers and stepbrothers were executed. Murad, along with other unmarried women, was taken as a sex slave and passed around various ISIS militants.

Following her escape from IS, Peace Laureate Nadia Murad chose to speak openly about what she had suffered. In 2016, at the age of just 23, she was named the UN’s first Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking.

Courage, compassion and humanity

Both winners have “put their personal security at risk by courageously combating war crimes and seeking justice for the victims,” Reiss-Andersen said.

She added that the Nobel committee had been unable to reach Mukwege and Murad to let them know about their award before it was announced to the world. “If they are watching this, my heartfelt congratulations,” she said.

European Council President Donald Tusk also congratulated both winners, praising “the courage, compassion and humanity they demonstrate in their daily fight.”

The UN special envoy for Iraq, Jan Kubis, said Murad had shown “heroism, bravery and resilience in the face of her torturers and abusers” and that the award was a tribute to all Yazidis and other Iraqis who suffered at the hands of ISIS.

Physicians for Human Rights, a US-based group, welcomed the award for both winners. “Dr. Mukwege is not only an extraordinary physician, but a courageous human rights leader who perfectly embodies the critical role that medical professionals play in witnessing abuse and speaking out against injustice,” said executive director Donna McKay.

There were 331 candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 — the second-highest number ever. Of those, 216 were individuals and 115 were organizations, according to Nobel organizers. The names of the nominees cannot be revealed until 50 years have passed.

Anti-Israel professor among winners of Nobel Prize in chemistry

George P. Smith talks to The Associated Press in a phone interview from his home in Columbia, Missouri, October 3, 2018. (Photo by AP)

The Peace Prize is the fourth Nobel award to be announced this week. The 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded half to Frances H. Arnold and the other half jointly to George P. Smith and Sir Gregory P. Winter on Wednesday for their work harnessing the power of evolution to develop new proteins used in drugs and medical treatments. Arnold was the fifth woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Smith, a retired biology professor at the University of Missouri, is a staunch critic of Israel, a fact that has pro-Israeli media fuming.

What sets Smith apart from his colleagues, however, is his long history of speaking up against Israel’s  crimes.

The Nobel winner , who has openly called himself a “post-Zionist,” caused uproar in 2015 after getting the university to allow him teach a course called “Perspectives on Zionism.”

Smith is also a pro-Palestinian activist and has several anti-Israeli groups such as the Jewish Voice for Peace, which describes itself as an American organization seeking to end  “the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem [al-Quds].”

The Anti-Defamation League, a known Zionist organization, characterizes the JVP as “a radical anti-Israel activist group that…[extends] its boycott agenda to include not just Israel but its American supporters as well.”

In his brief bio on the anti-Israel website Mondoweiss, Smith introduces himself as a non-Jewish person who has a Jewish wife and is “very engaged with Jewish culture and politics.”

The respected academic has penned numerous articles condemning Israel’s crimes and its tendency to look down on people rest of the world.

In 2012, Smith wrote in an op-ed for the Columbia Daily Tribune that the United States had to end arms sales to Israel as it committed “systematic oppression and dispossession of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem [al-Quds].”

In 2017, he penned another controversial article on the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which laid the groundwork for Israel’s establishment, blasting it as a “sordid chapter in settler-colonialist injustice.”

In his latest piece, the professor lambasted Israeli poet Naomi Shemer’s infamous song “Jerusalem of Gold,” stating that the “taint of Jewish supremacism” was “intrinsic to Shemer’s lyrics.”

Chemistry was the third of this year’s Nobel Prizes after the winners of the medicine and physics awards were announced earlier this week.

Smith and Winter each took a quarter of the $1.1 million prize that is awarded to the winners while the other half went to Arnold, PRESS TV reported.

Other winners

On Tuesday, the Nobel Prize in Physics was given to a woman for the first time in 55 years and for only the third time in its history.

Donna Strickland, a Canadian physicist, was awarded the 2018 prize jointly with Gérard Mourou, from France, for their work on generating high-intensity, ultra-short optical pulses. They share the award with an American, Arthur Ashkin, who at 96 becomes the oldest Nobel laureate, for developing “optical tweezers.”

A day earlier, American James Allison and Japan’s Tasuku Honjo won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine for a pioneering approach to cancer treatment, which harnesses the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells, CCN reported.

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