Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Torchbearers of Human Rights Award Winners Tell Tales of Personal Courage

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Torchbearers of Human Rights Award Winners Tell Tales of Personal Courage

Article excerpt

THE dark, slender young man on the hotel ballroom stage spoke forcefully, pausing only to let an interpreter relay his message.

"I was arrested by soldiers who came to my house on Oct. 10, 1989. They were dressed in civilian clothes, and arrived in a civilian car with West Bank rather than Israeli license plates. They took me from my house at gunpoint, without permitting me to even button my shirt. En route to the detention center in Hebron, the soldiers gagged and blindfolded me and tied my hands behind my back and beat me. In Hebron, one soldier stubbed a cigarette out on my hand and behind my ear. Then he threw me in a dirty toilet, and began to jump on my head and my chest, and to kick me repeatedly until I felt that I was going to die."

The speaker, Sha'wan Jabarin, is a Palestinian field worker for Al-Haq, a human rights monitoring group in the West Bank affiliated with the International Commission of Jurists. He was in Boston earlier this month to be honored as one of several winners of the 1990 Reebok Human Rights Award.

Mr. Jabarin was released from the detention camp in September of this year and even allowed to travel to the United States to accept his award, a $25,000 grant.

Not so David Moya. The 24-year-old Cuban, executive secretary of the Party of Human rights in Cuba, was released in November after more than a year in jail for an "illegal" demonstration outside the Soviet Embassy in support of reforms going on there. He was not allowed to come to the US.

Other winners include Akram Mayi, a tireless spokesman for thousands of Kurds living in refugee camps inside Turkey; Tracye Matthews, a graduate student at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and a member of the school's United Coalition Against Racism; and Martin Dunn and Jeffrey Bradley, who work for the Association to Benefit Children in New York City. In addition, two past winners who previously had been unable to attend received their awards. Chai Ling (1989) managed the student demonstrators' headquarters in Tiananmen Square during the 1989 protest in Beijing. She spent several months in hiding after the crackdown until making her way to the US. …

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