Date: Mon, 12 May 97 10:11:23 CDT
From: Hilary Naylor <>
Subject: AIUSA: Bhutanese woman wins G.Sagan award!

/* Written 11:14 PM May 11, 1997 by hnaylor in igc:ai.general */
/* ---------- "Bhutanese woman wins G.Sagan award!" ---------- */
Amnesty International USA
304 Pennsylvania Ave., SE Washington, DC 20003

For Immediate Release Thursday, May 8, 1997
Contact: Christine Haenn (202) 544-0200 ext. 225 or
Sergio Barbanti (202) 328-5562

Human Rights Defender, Refugee from Bhutan Wins First Ginetta Sagan Fund Award

Press release from Amnesty International. 8 May, 1997

The head of one of Asias best known non-governmental organizations that helps women refugees who have been raped and tortured, is the recipient of the first Ginetta Sagan Fund Award of Amnesty International USA. Mangala Sharma created Bhutanese Refugees Aiding Victims of Violence (BRAVVE) while she, herself, lived in a refugee camp near Nepal, following her expulsion from Bhutan for her ethnicity.

As a Bhutanese in exile, Mangala Sharma overcame tremendous obstacles to help women abused and traumatized by civil strife and to educate her own people on the importance of womens rights as human rights.... Her charismatic nature has been instrumental in improving the lives of many of her fellow refugees, both men and women, an Amnesty activist wrote in nominating Ms. Sharma for the award.

The Ginetta Sagan Award was established to perpetuate the legacy of 1996 Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Ginetta Sagan. The award will be presented on Wednesday, May 14, at the Residence of the Ambassador of Italy, 2800 Albemarle Street, NW, Washington, DC, in a ceremony moderated by renowned journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault. Ginetta Sagan and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor John Shattuck will speak at the reception attended by activists from the human rights and womens movements. Ms. Sharma will receive from the Ginetta Sagan Fund a $10,000 grant to further her work.

Mangala Sharma represented the Womens Commission for Refugee Women and Children at the 1997 session of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). She currently attends Columbia University in a three-month human rights training program. She became a refugee in 1992 as a result of the Bhutanese governments revocation of citizenship rights and eventual expulsion of Nepali- speaking Bhutanese citizens. There are now more than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees, the majority of whom live in camps in southeastern Nepal. Ms. Sharma has traveled to the United States, the United Kingdom and to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing to raise awareness of Bhutanese refugees and global refugee issues; and she was featured in an award-winning BBC documentary, Mangalas Story, two years ago. She continues to give priority to working with recovering victims of violence, and remains a source of inspiration for thousands of women struggling to overcome abuse.

The selection of Ms. Sharma is a poignant reminder of Ginetta Sagans own courage in her native Italy during World War II, when she was imprisoned for her role in the resistance. Ms. Sagan has devoted her life to promoting human rights. She is the Honorary Chair of Amnesty International USA and celebrates 30 years with the organization this year.

The honor in Ginetta Sagans name will be awarded every year to a woman or women who work on behalf of the human rights of women or children; demonstrate courage, integrity and commitment to human rights principles; and reside in or are indigenous to a crisis region.

For more information, contact:
Christine Haenn or Lurma Rackley at Amnesty International, (202) 544-0200; or Sergio Barbanti at the Italian Embassy, (202) 328- 5562.

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