By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK | STOCKHOLM (IDN) – The laureates of the 2018 Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, received their prizes on November 23 at the award presentation in Stockholm, Sweden. Regrettably, three Saudi laureates were prevented from attending due to lengthy prison sentences for their work promoting justice and equality.
The awards recognize the outstanding contributions of global citizens in the areas of the environment, human rights, peace, democracy, and law. The Saudi laureates, sharing an award for 2018, were civil and human rights activists Abdullah al-Hamid, Mohammad Fahad al-Qahtani, and Waleed Abu al-Khair.
In 2013, al-Hamid and al-Qahtani were sentenced to eleven and ten years, respectively, on charges of “inciting disorder by calling for demonstrations” and “forming an unlicensed organization.” In 2014, Abu al-Khair was sentenced to fifteen years for “disobeying the ruler” and “harming the reputation of the state by communicating with international organizations.”
The three have been honoured “for their visionary and courageous efforts, guided by universal human rights principles, to reform the totalitarian political system in Saudi Arabia.”
Among others receiving the Swedish prize is smallholder farmer Yacouba Sawadogo of Burkina Faso, recognized for his efforts to turn barren land into forest and demonstrate how farmers can regenerate their soil with innovative use and local knowledge.
Agronomist Tony Rinaudo of Australia has been recognized for demonstrating on a large scale how drylands can be greened at minimal cost, improving the livelihoods of millions of people.
Finally, anti-corruption champions Thelma Aldana of Guatemala and Iván Velásquez of Colombia have been named as honorary laureates for their innovative work in exposing abuse of power and persecuting corruption, thus rebuilding people’s trust in public institutions.
The awards include a cash payout of one million Swedish Krona (more than $113,000), which must be used to support a laureate’s work. The foundation describes its purpose as giving laureates a megaphone while protecting those whose life and liberty are at risk.
“The laureates’ trailblazing work for accountability, democracy, and the regeneration of degraded land gives tremendous hope and deserves the world’s highest attention,” said Ole von Uexkull, executive director of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.
“At a time of alarming environmental decline and failing political leadership, they show the way forward into a very different future,” he added. [IDN-InDepthNews – 28 November 2018]
Photo: 2018 Right Livelihood Award Laureates (from left to right): Thelma Aldana (Guatemala), Tony Rinaudo (Australia) , Yacouba Sawadogo (Burkina Faso), and Iván Velásquez (Colombia). They are holding a picture showing the three jailed Laureates from Saudi Arabia, Abdullah Al-Hamid, Waleed Abu Al-Khair and Mohammad Fahad Al-Qahtani. Credit: Right Livelihood Award Foundation/Wolfgang Schmidt.
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