Three activists, including Venezuelan Feliciano Reyna – who fights for access to health care for the marginalized LGBT community – received the prestigious Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights on Thursday for their “courage” in the face of life-threatening challenges.
Martin Ennals Award Honors Venezuelan Activist Feliciano Reyna for his Courageous Fight for LGBT Healthcare Access
The award was given to Reyna for his fight for access to health care and medication for AIDS and other chronic diseases in Venezuela, to Khurram Parvez for his activism in Indian Kashmir that led to his imprisonment and Delphine Djiraibe, one of Chad’s first female lawyers.
The prize is one of the most prestigious for human rights activists and comes with a cash award of between 20,000 and 30,000 Swiss francs ($22,000 and $33,000).
“The common denominator of the 2023 Laureates is their courage, passion and determination to give a voice to the voiceless on the international stage, despite constant challenges that sometimes put their lives at risk,” said jury chairman Hans Thoolen in a statement.
“We are especially proud of these three extraordinary laureates, who have dedicated nearly 30 years of their lives to building movements that bring justice to victims or medicine to the marginalized,” he added.
Celebrating 25 Years of Human Rights Activism
The award ceremony will take place in Geneva on February 16. The Martin Ennals Prize has been awarded annually since 1994 in memory of Amnesty International’s first Secretary General.
Reyna was a well-known architect who, when his partner died of AIDS in 1995, founded the NGO Acción Solidaria to provide medicines and treatment to Venezuelans living with HIV. He later helped establish the first national support network.
The Story of Gisela Reyna & Her Impact on Health Care Access
The jury also cited Reyna’s founding of Codevida, the Coalition of Organizations for the Right to Health and Life in Venezuela, which works to ensure access to treatment for people with chronic diseases.
The award also recognized his fierce fight against the severe humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
“Despite being repeatedly threatened, harassed and arrested, Mr. Reyna decided to stay in his country to fight for human rights,” said the foundation that awards the prize.
Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA)
The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders (MEA) is an annual prize that recognizes the work of human rights defenders around the world.
Established in 1993, it is the world’s leading human rights award and is presented to individuals or organizations that have demonstrated exemplary courage in defending and promoting human rights.
The award is named in honor of the late Martin Ennals, a human rights activist and Secretary General of Amnesty International.
The MEA is awarded annually to a deserving individual or organization whose work has made a significant impact in the field of human rights. It is awarded by the jury of the Martin Ennals Foundation, which consists of ten renowned international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and Front Line Defenders.
The award recognizes the work of human rights defenders in the face of adversity, from physical threats and intimidation to legal obstacles and financial constraints.
Recipients of the MEA have made extraordinary contributions to the struggle for human rights, often at the forefront of dangerous campaigns against oppressive regimes.
They also inspire those who continue to fight for justice and freedom against all odds. The award is a testament to the power of courage and perseverance in the face of adversity and serves as a reminder that human rights are universal and must be defended.
The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders is a timely and important recognition of the courageous work of human rights defenders around the world. This award is an important reminder that human rights are universal and that those who defend them must be honored and supported.