Pacific Women’s Rights Campaigner Honoured
Pacific Women’s Rights Campaigner Honoured By Amnesty
Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand (AIANZ) has granted its first ever Human Rights Defender Award to Shamima Ali, Executive Director of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre in Suva, Fiji.
Ali was presented the award at a ceremony on International Human Rights Day (10 December), in recognition of her outstanding contribution towards improving women’s rights in Fiji and throughout the Pacific.
“Human rights defenders put themselves on the front line, often risking life and limb to stand up for what they believe in. While we may take that for granted in New Zealand, we still need to remember that human rights abuses are happening on our doorstep,” says Patrick Holmes, Chief Executive Officer of AIANZ.
“Shamima Ali has been at the forefront of combating violence against women in the Pacific. We wanted to salute her for the immense courage she has shown in challenging the 2006 military coup in Fiji and in continuing, despite threats and intimidation, to document its impact on the people of Fiji.”
When asked about receiving the award Ms Ali said “Amnesty International New Zealand should be commended for establishing this award. While I’m the recipient, one must remember the many other human rights defenders in Fiji and the rest of the Pacific who work just as hard. The work doesn’t end – every day we are challenged anew. And this award gives me further encouragement never to give up defending our rights. This is what makes us human”
Ali was selected from a shortlist of five nominees which also included Sue Bradford, former Green MP and activist, Auckland; Kathleen Dunstall of the Howard League for Penal Reform, Christchurch; Deborah Manning former refugee advocate and counsel for Ahmed Zaoui, now Geneva-based with Alkarama Foundation for Human Rights and peace and human rights activist The Very Reverend John Stewart Murray on the Kapiti Coast.
The award ceremony was timed to celebrate International Human Rights Day – the day the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was adopted, 61 years ago.
“As we celebrate how far we have come in the fight to eradicate human rights abuses around the world, this date and this award are reminders of how far we still have to go to achieve human rights for all people everywhere” adds Holmes.