The 1995 Reebok Human Rights Award will recognize the following leaders,
who have dedicated themselves to furthering the cause of human rights around
Angela Elizabeth Brown (About Environmental Justice)
Age 30, a student/youth organizer, is battling environmental injustice throughout the Southern region of the U.S. Ms. Brown founded the Youth Task Force of the Southern Organizing Committee, a network of youth organizations spanning ten states and 85 universities. By organizing disenfranchised youth and communities of color to fight for environmental justice, Ms. Brown is empowering them to seek out and sustain a decent quality of life. Her efforts are a wake-up call to young people, urging them to acknowledge their own power to shape their surroundings, and ultimately, change their future.
Working with organizations such as the Youth Task Force and Greenpeace, she is part of a growing movement that is effectively capturing the attention of the U.S. government. A June 1995 report from the United States General Accounting Office acknowledged the urgency of environmental inequities: "The issue of environmental justice -- the question of whether minorities and low-income people bear a disproportionate burden of exposure to toxic pollutants and any resulting health effects -- has been the subject of growing concern over the past decade. The issue has become one of the top priorities of the Environmental Protection Agency."
Richard Nsanzabaganwa (About Rwanda)
Age 26, a Rwandan national of Tutsi ethnic origin, is bravely working to bring justice to victims of the 1994 genocide of half a million people, in a weakened country with a judicial system which has become nearly extinct. Approximately 47,000 prisoners nationwide have been detained on suspicion that they participated in the genocide, with approximately 100 prisoners dying each month due to disease and overcrowding. The civilian population is facing death, starvation and displacement. Mr. Nsanzabaganwa personally suffered abuses, and his family was massacred.
As the chief investigator of the Mission Permanente de Surveillance of the Association Rwandaise des Droits de l'Homme (ARDHO), Mr. Nsanzabaganwa travels the country gathering information and taking testimony from survivors, in an effort to bring justice to these human rights atrocities. One supporter said of Mr. Nsanzabaganwa: "What happened in Rwanda will remain a blemish on the face of humankind, but to bring attention to the selfless work of one of the individuals who continues to risk his life to resist the mass insanity of hatred in this country would be a small step in the right direction."
Miguel Angel de los Santos Cruz (About Mexico)
Age 30, a Mexican attorney based in Chiapas represents indigenous people who have suffered human rights abuses. His nonpartisan efforts to assure fair access to legal representation for all people -- particularly individuals who cannot afford it and those cases brought against the state -- have led him to consistently accept the most difficult, unpopular cases that few lawyers in Chiapas would choose to take on. As the staff attorney for CONPAZ, a new human rights organization created in the wake of the 1994 Chiapas uprising, Mr. de los Santos Cruz defends poor, indigenous Mexicans accused by the government of membership in the rebel Zapatista army. At the height of the conflict, he participated in peaceful demonstrations that created a "belt of peace" between the two armies. In his selfless service as a champion of the people, he has been harassed, threatened and detained.
Phuntsok Nyidron (About Tibet)
Age 27, a Tibetan Buddhist nun who courageously asserted her right to free speech in protesting the Chinese occupation of Tibet, is serving a 17-year prison sentence. The Chinese government initially arrested her for leading a peaceful demonstration in 1989. According to the testimony received from a released Tibetan nun, she and fellow demonstrators were beaten with iron rods and tortured with electric batons while in prison. For the "crime" of recording Tibetan independence songs on a tape recorder smuggled into her prison cell, she was sentenced to an additional eight years in prison. Ven. Phuntsok Nyidron's cumulative sentence is seventeen years, the longest of any female political prisoner in Tibet. She is a symbol of freedom of expression, an extraordinary woman who continues to nonviolently advance the cause of human rights at the cost of her own personal freedom and safety.
One of her supporters said: "It is a rare and remarkable human being who would dare to raise her voice in a song of freedom once more after already having suffered imprisonment and torture...[she] has declared that victims of oppressive governments will not submit in silence."