The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brenda Bowser Soder,,O -202/370-3323, C - 301/906-4460

Brazilian, Colombian Activists Will Receive Annual Human Rights Award

Human Rights First to Honor Gabriel Gonzalez, Sandra Carvalho


An activist who has fought to expose and end the inhumane treatment
of Colombian prisoners and an advocate who has worked to uncover
atrocities and promote human rights in Brazil are the recipients of
Human Rights First's 2009 Human Rights Award. The awards are bestowed
at Human Rights First's annual dinner held at Chelsea Piers in New York
City on Thursday, October 22.

Principe Gabriel Gonzalez is a student activist and regional
coordinator of the Political Prisoners Solidarity Committee in
Colombia where he has worked to promote access to justice for prisoners
and victims of Colombia's conflict. Ironically, Gonzalez's advocacy led
to his own arrest and detention on the false charge of being a guerilla
leader. He was detained for more than a year, lived in exile to escape
judicial harassment, and now faces seven more years in prison on
trumped-up charges if his test-case appeal to Colombia's Supreme Court
is unsuccessful. The award recognizes Gonzalez's bravery and unwavering
commitment to justice despite years of harassment, detention and
threats, and highlights the widespread problem of false prosecution
and arbitrary detention of Colombian activists.

Brazilian lawyer Sandra Carvalho has a long and distinguished career
as a human rights defender in Brazil. Carvalho leads Global Justice, a
Sao Paulo-based NGO known for its work on a wide range of issues,
including ending police violence in Rio de Janeiro, addressing land
rights in northern Brazil, ending prisoner abuse, and stopping illegal
wiretapping of Brazilian human rights defenders. Carvalho has
been harassed and threatened by those who seek to obstruct her work,
and several of her colleagues have been killed. But Carvalho has not
been deterred. Her work goes on, and Brazilians continue to benefit
from her courageous efforts to find justice for those who have been
oppressed or persecuted.

"These two extraordinary people truly embody the spirit of this
award: to stand up for those less powerful, protect them from harm, and
amplify their voices," said Elisa Massimino, Human Rights First CEO and
Executive Director. "Their courage and determination to seek justice
and defend the rights of others--often under difficult and dangerous
circumstances--inspire us all. We are so pleased to be able to
honor Gabriel and Sandra for their many accomplishments."

Gonzelez and Carvalho will receive their awards during a gala event
at Chelsea Piers. Veteran newsman Tom Brokaw will MC the event. Human
Rights First has presented its annual human rights awards for more than
20 years. Former recipients include Dr. Mudawi Ibrahim Adam from
Darfur; Ludmilla Alexeeva from Russia; Helen Mack from Guatemala;
Archbishop Pius Ncube from Zimbabwe; Saad Eddin Ibrahim from Egypt;
Albie Sachs from South Africa; Hina Jalani from Pakistan; and Mary
Robinson from Ireland.

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.