Congolese physician wins 2008 Olof Palme Prize

January 9th, 2009 - 4:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Stockholm, Jan 9 (DPA) Congolese physician Denis Mukwege has been named winner of the 2008 Olof Palme Prize for his “work for peace and human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo”.The prize, worth $75,000, was created in 1987 in memory of the late Swedish prime minister Olof Palme, who was slain in 1986.

Mukewege founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, capital of the South Kivu province, in 1992. The hospital has specialized in treating victims of sexual violence.

Rape and other forms of sexual violence have become a frightening tactic of warring factions in the DR Congo.

The jury lauded Mukwege as “an admirable example of what courage, persistency and enduring hope might accomplish for human rights and dignity in times when these values seem the most distant”.

A prize ceremony was planned here at the end of January.

Last year, Iranian activist Parvin Ardalan was prevented from travelling to Sweden to accept her award.

The 2006 prize was shared by former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and Sudanese human rights activist Mossaad Mohamed Ali.

Other recipients include former Czech president and dissident Vaclav Havel, Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Amnesty International, Palestinian human rights activist Hanan Ashrawi and UN weapons inspector Hans Blix.

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