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Afghan woman wins Swedish rights prize

September 28, 2012

STOCKHOLM: Afghan human rights activist and former minister Sima Samar on Thursday won the Swedish Right Livelihood Award honouring those who work to improve the lives of others.

Samar, 55, was honoured “for her longstanding and courageous dedication to human rights, especially the rights of women, in one of the most complex and dangerous regions in the world,” the jury said in a statement.

“I feel very happy to have won the prize,” Samar said in Kabul.

“I am very proud and so are the women of Afghanistan. This shows the ability of Afghan women.” A medical doctor by training, Samar fled to Pakistan in 1984 when her husband disappeared following his arrest by Afghanistan’s communist regime.

She returned in 2001 to become her country’s first minister of women’s affairs and in 2002 was named the head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, which she still leads.

From 2005 to 2009 she was the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Sudan.

Samar shares the 2012 Right Livelihood Award with American political theorist Gene Sharp, 84, whom the jury described as “the world’s foremost expert on non-violent revolution”, and a non-governmental organisation campaigning for an end to British arms exports, Campaign Against Arms Trade.—AFP