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Afghan Among Winners Of 'Alternative Nobels'


Sima Samar heads the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)
Promoters of peace, human rights, and the environment were named as winners of this year's Right Livelihood Awards, dubbed by some "the alternative Nobels."

American political theorist Gene Sharp will share the 150,000 euro ($195,000) prize with Afghan rights activist Sima Samar and Britain's Campaign Against Arms Trade.

Sharp, 83, is the author of a manual for nonviolent struggle "From Dictatorship to Democracy." The writings of Sharp, a former Harvard researcher, have been widely translated and used to promote nonviolent resistance in countries as varied as Serbia and Egypt.

Afghan rights activist Samar, 54, shares the award in recognition of years of promoting human rights, as the founder of an NGO and while holding official appointments in the Afghan government.

The jury cited "her longstanding and courageous dedication to human rights, especially the rights of women, in one of the most complex and dangerous regions of the world."

In 1989, Samar established the Shuhada Organization in Quetta, Pakistan, to provide health care to refugee Afghan women and girls and train medical staff. After the fall of the Taliban, she returned to Afghanistan and served as a deputy president in the Afghan Transitional Administration and then as Minister for Women's Affairs.

She currently heads the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).

The third recipient sharing the cash award, Britain's Campaign Against Arms Trade, works for the abolition of the international arms business. The group was founded in 1974 by a broad coalition of peace organizations.

Turkish environmentalist Hayrettin Karaca, 90, received an honorary prize. Karaca, considered the grandfather of the Turkish environmental movement, is the co-founder of TEMA, a successful nationwide movement to protect soil and natural habitats.

Swedish-German philanthropist Jakon von Uexkull founded the donor-funded awards in 1980 to recognize work he thought was ignored by the Nobel Foundation.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and dpa