July 4, 2020

Alternative Nobel honors Saharawi struggle and climate and indigenous activism

The so-called Alternative Nobel honored this Saharawi fight and climate, indigenous and feminist activism, the year in which the awards of the Right Livelihood Award Foundation meet four decades, this Wednesday in Stockholm.

The gala at the Teatro del Circo, with the general public for the first time, was marked by the absence of two winners: the Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg and the Chinese lawyer Guo Jianmei.

While the inspirer of the global movement "FridaysForFuture" (Friday for the Future) is in Lisbon on the way to Madrid to participate in the global climate summit, Guo informed the organization that he would not attend, without going into more details about the reason of his absence.

"The fight continues, we will not stop," Thunberg said in a brief video message in which he thanked a prize that two young men from the Swedish section of the movement picked up.

On the other hand, the Saharawi Aminetu Haidar and the Yanomami indigenous leader Davi Kopenawa (Brazil) attended, who like the rest of the winners received a million Swedish crowns ($ 103,000) and a sculpture made for the occasion by the British Tony Cragg with molten metal of illegal weapons seized in El Salvador.


In his speech in Arabic, Haidar attacked Morocco for not recognizing the rights of the Saharawi people, but also Spain, which has not assumed its "responsibility" with the former colony; to France, for "protecting" and "supporting" Rabat; and to the UN, which by not implementing its resolutions has become the guarantor of the "status quo".

The founder and president of the Collective of Saharawi Human Rights Defenders (CODESA) also blamed the European Union (EU) for "her continued looting of our natural resources in complicity with Morocco, violating all laws."

"They are pushing us to give up the peaceful struggle because they leave us no other way out. It is what I fear most: that the Saharawis will be forced to take up arms again to defend their rights because of the indifference of the international community," he claimed.


Kopenawa also appealed to world society to force the Brazilian Government to "urgently" expel the "garimpeiros" (gold diggers) and to delimit the lands of other indigenous peoples, as it did in its day with the Yanomami.

An international campaign led by Kopenawa and the NGO Survival International achieved in 1992 the demarcation of more than 96,000 square kilometers after a fifth of the population was decimated by the garimpeiros, who have now returned.

"They invade and destroy our land, pollute our rivers and kill our fish with their mercury. We are dying, getting sick with malaria, tuberculosis, onchocerciasis, cancer, flu, measles and sexually transmitted diseases," he said in Yanomami language.

Through Chinese-American activist Karin Tse, in charge of reading her speech, Guo Jianmei highlighted the progress made in the protection of women's rights in China with several organizations in the last two decades, although she regretted that there are still "immense" challenges and difficulties. "

The lack of dialogue with the authorities, ignorance of gender issues and lack of funds hinder a struggle in which Guo, considered one of China's most recognized human rights lawyers, has pioneered.


The ceremony was attended by videoconference of former CIA analyst Edward Snowden, exiled for six years in Russia for revealing a large-scale surveillance scheme of US authorities and winner of the Alternative Nobel in 2014.

Snowden recalled that it was not an "easy" decision but showed no regret, despite the fact that no European government protects him against a US extradition order, where he would face an extraordinary process "for telling the truth" and prison for lifetime.

The director of the foundation, Ole von Uexküll, recalled that these awards have distinguished 178 laureates from 70 countries, "the tip of the iceberg of social movements and drivers of change," although he admitted his "fear" for the lack of global action against The climate crisis

It was his father, former Swedish-German MEP Jakob von Uexküll, who instituted the awards in 1980, a year after the Nobel Foundation rejected his idea of ​​an environmental award and another that promoted knowledge in poor countries, for whose funding he would donate his personal stamp collection, valued at one million dollars.

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