Phyoe Phyoe Aung is the General Secretary of the All Burma Federation of Student Unions (ABFSU), and has led widespread protests for academic freedom across the country. She spent three years in prison for peacefully participating in the “Saffron Revolution” in 2008, and was again arrested in 2015 with more than 100 other students – many of whom were tortured. Phyoe Phyoe was released on presidential pardon in April 2016.
2016 Award Finalists
Ana Mirian Romero is a land rights and indigenous rights defender in Honduras. She is a member of Movimiento Indígena Lenca de La Paz Honduras – MILPAH (Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz, Honduras) and the Consejo Indígena San Isidro Labrador (San Isidro Labrador Indigenous Council). She has been active in opposing the installation of the Los Encinos hydro-electric dam on indigenous land near the Chinacla river. In early 2016 her home was burned down.
Khalid Bagirov is the face of a group of threatened and persecuted human rights lawyers in Azerbaijan. When the Azeri government began an unprecedented crackdown on civil society in 2013, lawyers taking on the cases of prominent human rights defenders and journalists became targets of government persecution themselves. For his bold work defending some of the most prominent and targeted HRDs in the country, Bagirov was disbarred in 2015.
Ingrid Vergara Chavéz is a land rights defender working with the Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) in Sucre, Colombia. Ingrid and her colleagues demand justice and an end to impunity for government and paramilitary crimes, and advocate for the return of lands to displaced peasant and indigenous communities In response, she and her daughters have been threatened with weapons, public pamphlets, phone and email messages, and surveillance.
Mohammed Khatib is a human rights defender working on the right to self-determination in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. He is Palestinian lawyer and one of the founders of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (PSCC), which connects peaceful protests in different villages across Palestine. In his 11 years as a human rights defender, he has been targeted with harassment, detentions and abuse by the Israeli military, and physical assault by Israeli settlers.