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2023 Secretary’s Award for Global Anti-Racism Champions  – United States Department of State

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Tomorrow, August 9, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will give the first annual Secretary’s Global Anti-Racism Champions Awards.  This group of global civil society leaders has courageously advanced the human rights of members of marginalized racial, ethnic, and Indigenous communities and combatted systemic racism, discrimination, and xenophobia worldwide.  The 2023 awardees are:

Kari Guajajara – Brazil

Kari Guajajara is an Indigenous leader from the Brazilian Amazon who serves as the legal advisor for Indigenous representative organizations.  She is a trained lawyer specializing in promoting Indigenous Peoples’ rights, combating gender-based violence and protecting the environment.  Kari is native from the Araribóia Indigenous land and belongs to the Guajajara-Tenetehára People, who have been suffering extensive losses of their traditional territories, devastating losses of life, and disruptions of tradition due to contact with non-Indigenous groups.

Oswaldo Bilbao Lobatón – Peru

Oswaldo Bilbao Lobatón, an Afro-Peruvian activist, has spent more than four decades fighting for the recognition and rights for Afro-Peruvians, one of Peru’s least visible and most disadvantaged populations.  He was part of the committee that organized the first meeting of Black communities in Peru in 1992, bringing together for the first time in its history more than 100 Afro-Peruvian representatives from around the country.  He is currently a member of the International Coalition for the Defense, Conservation, Protection of Territories, Environment, Land Use, and Climate Change of Afro-descendant Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Rani Yan Yan – Bangladesh

Rani Yan Yan is an Indigenous human rights defender and women’s rights activist who has brought international attention to the plight of her community at great risk to herself.  Yan Yan serves as a tribal leader from the Marma Tribe in Bangladesh and actively advocates for vulnerable populations facing government-sponsored discrimination, land grabbing, violence and the adverse effects of climate change.  As a direct result of Yan Yan’s activism, the international community has gained new awareness of the violence committed against minority groups in Bangladesh. Throughout her career, Yan Yan has advised and trained domestic and international organizations on climate resiliency and gender equality, researched the political participation of Indigenous women, and mentored youth activists on diversity and social inclusion.  Yan Yan has emerged as a fearless voice and outspoken advocate for equal rights, despite facing immense discrimination and even violence.

Saadia Mosbah – Tunisia

Saadia Mosbah is a Tunisian activist who has dedicated her life to fighting racial discrimination and prejudice, as well as defending the rights of Black Tunisians.  In 2013, after several unsuccessful attempts to launch an association that fights racial discrimination during President Ben Ali’s rule, she finally established Mnemty, “My Dream,” an association that endeavors to raise awareness about the value of diversity and importance of equality, to denounce racism in public spaces, ensure legal protection for all, elevate the profile of the Black population in the cultural sphere, and promote socio-economic development in predominantly black communities.  Saadia’s activism, alongside that of several human rights activists, contributed to the adoption of the law in Tunisia criminalizing racial discrimination on October 9, 2018.   For Mosbah, the law is an achievement, but incomplete, as it lacks a universal declaration that denounces all forms of discrimination irrespective of religion, language, or skin color.

Sarswati Nepali – Nepal

Sarswati Nepali is an acclaimed social activist and President of the Dalit Society Development Forum, and a lifelong defender of the human rights of marginalized castes, the disabled, and the poor.  For over twenty years, Sarswati has demonstrated sustained leadership in advancing the human rights of members of the most marginalized ethnic communities in Nepal.  Born into a Dalit – or so called “untouchable” caste – family in Nepal’s underdeveloped far-western region, Sarswati played a crucial role in Dalit social justice movements to acquire land rights, gain access to education, and obtain equal justice from the courts. Sarswati’s decades of advocacy on behalf of those in the most need and her demonstrated success in attaining justice and providing a voice to the marginalized are a model of courage in the pursuit of dignity and human rights.

Victorina Luca – Moldova

Victorina Luca, human rights lawyer and founder of the Roma Awareness Foundation, has been a champion of racial equity in Moldova for more than fifteen years.  She has lent her expertise to international organizations, including the United Nations, World Bank, and Council of Europe, as an expert in the inclusion of marginalized people.  Ms. Luca operates Radio Patrin Moldova, which broadcasts the proud language and culture of Moldovan Roma to audiences all over the world.  She has studied at the Free University of Moldova, Sweden’s Lund University, and Central European University.  She speaks Romani, Romanian, Russian, and English, and lives with her son in Chisinau.

For more details about the event, click here.

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