Saturday, October 29, 2005

Hey, Minh Duc! Here’s a Real Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize is a sham, a scam and a shame. It’s become so truly banal that I actively avoid reading any news about it, sure that it will be one more New York Times Moment — i.e., a skewed, off-kilter version of reality both unpleasant and untrue.

Turns out I was right. This year’s winner joins the ranks of Yasser Arafat, et al. Long may he reign. And no, I’m not going to link to the story; on principle I don’t link to sites which promote a New York Times state of mind.

Back when the nominees were being considered, Minh Duc emailed me his choice: Mukhtar Mai. He had a post up giving his reasons for nominating her, and suggested that I might want to do the same. I meant to follow him since she is a woman whose courage deeply affects me. But with one distraction after another, I never did write the post.

Probably the real reason for my distraction was the certainty that yet another inconsequential person would have the Peace Prize undeservedly bestowed upon him and it would be depressing… I’m a real avoider of the “news” for that reason.

Nonetheless, I did go over to State of Flux to read his thoughts about the subject. I often go over there, because of one thing you can be sure: Minh Duc will inevitably have his own original, intelligent, and enjoyable take on any given situation. His introductory anecdote about the 2004 awards was worth the read. In fact, I remain amazed that State of Flux is not up there in the big blogs. His version of English is in itself entertaining! That’s not making fun, either: he uses language well while I do not speak a word of Vietnamese. So anyone who sees condescension in my remarks about Minh Duc’s writing is seriously not getting my point. One of the nice things about native English speakers — as opposed, let’s say, to the French — is that we genuinely like to read people whose native language is not English. They give it a certain “je ne sais quoi” which provides its own charm. Kind of like when Texans speak English, or Cajuns. It’s their own version of a rich and varied tongue.

But now, Minh Duc and I can share our pleasure at the announcement of a real Peace Prize:

Damas de BlancoDamas de Blanco, the Ladies in White, have won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for 2005.

These women banded together in 2003 to protest the detention of their husbands and sons, political dissidents jailed by Castro. Every Sunday, the Ladies in White march in solidarity with their men incarcerated without due process or any knowledge of when — if ever — they will be released. Damas de Blanco’s walk through the streets of Havana serves as a voice united for their loved ones — those whom the Castro regime has silenced.

The Sakharov Prize was established in 1988 by the European Parliament. Here, from their website, is some background explanation of the award:
     Since 1988, to honor the spirit of Andrei Sakharov, the European Parliament has awarded an annual prize in his name, singling out those individuals or organizations who best exemplify Sakharov’s fight for fundamental human freedoms. From their website
From Gorky, where he was living in exile, Andrei Sakharov (1921-1989), the renowned physicist, member of the Academy of Sciences, dissident and 1975 Nobel Peace Prize winner, sent a message to the European Parliament saying how moved he was that it intended to create a prize for freedom of thought which would bear his name. He rightly saw this as an encouragement to all those who, like him, had committed themselves to championing human rights.
Coming from a background in nuclear physics and ending as a dissident, he not only sought the release of dissenters in his country but also drew attention to the relationship between science and society and to the issues of peaceful coexistence and intellectual freedom, which he analysed in his writings. In the eyes of the world, Sakharov came to embody the crusade against the denial of fundamental rights. Neither intimidation nor exile could break his resistance.
As the website Net for Cuba International puts it:
    - It is fantastic good news that Damas de Blanco gets the Sakharov Prize. The publicity that this prize is bringing is invaluable for these brave, peaceful ladies supporting their imprisoned husbands. In their situation they need all the support from the outside world they can get. This again shows that the situation on Cuba is extremely serious and that the EU has to take action.
Yes, they are “brave, peaceful ladies.” Just as Mukhtar Mai is. And their recognition cheers the soul. It is always cheering when the occasional experience of justice occurs.

I would say “long may they march” except… as long as they have to march, it means that freedom of speech in Cuba still has a gag over her mouth.

Long may their courage reign.

Hat Tip: Free Thoughts


al fin said...

Wonderful news. These are indeed courageous ladies who reflect well on their country.

It is long past time for the butcher Castro to receive his due.