The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Krista Minteer (212) 845-5207

Next Generation Internet Activists Receive Human Rights Award

Human Rights First Honors Russian, Egyptian Internet Activists, Salutes Veteran Human Rights Defenders


Celebrities, emerging human rights defenders and seasoned activists came together on Thursday night at Chelsea Piers for Human Rights First's annual dinner and 30th anniversary celebration, which highlighted the power that social media and Internet technology is having on the struggle for international human rights. Actress Sigourney Weaver, who served as master of ceremonies, and singer Mary Chapin Carpenter, who performed during the event, were among the approximately 1,000 people who attended the annual gathering.

Russian pro-democracy activist and blogger Oleg Kozlovsky and Egyptian Internet activist Nora Younis received the annual Human Rights Award, which honors individuals who exhibit extraordinary courage in the pursuit of freedom, dignity and fairness. Caroline Kennedy accepted an award on behalf of her uncle, Senator Ted Kennedy, who was honored as a lifelong champion of international human rights causes.

Kozlovsky, 24, and Younis, 31, have used online media to draw global attention to human rights abuses in their respective countries. Kozlovsky -- a leader of a citizens' movement in Russia that believes democracy is the only way to ensure and protect human rights -- has been beaten, incarcerated, and forcibly conscripted into the Russian army because of his leadership on these issues. Similarly, Younis has been the target of verbal threats and intimidation because of her outspoken criticism of the Egyptian government concerning issues related to refugees and minorities, religious discrimination, torture and sexual harassment.

Sen. Kennedy has fought against human rights violations around the world for almost 50 years -- from Central and South America to South Africa, Northern Ireland, the Philippines and Russia. His dedication has made him a voice for the voiceless and a true advocate for the fundamental rights of all peoples everywhere.

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.