Saturday, March 05, 2011

Argentina: Argentina’s Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo awarded UNESCO peace prize

UNESCO's Irina Bokova (L) with Estela Carlotto, founder and head of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, in Buenos Aires in 2010

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a non-governmental organization that has been working for over 30 years to locate the families of children kidnapped and “disappeared” during the military dictatorship in Argentina, is this year’s recipient of the United Nations cultural agency’s peace prize.

The Jury of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, meeting in Paris, awarded the 2010 prize to the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo for their “tireless battle for human rights and peace by standing up to oppression, injustice and impunity.”

The award, created in 1989 by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), honours people, institutions and organizations that have contributed significantly to the promotion, research, preservation or maintenance of peace. It is named for the first president of Côte d’Ivoire.

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo was founded in 1977 and seeks to ensure that violations of children’s rights such as those that occurred during the military dictatorship in Argentina never happen again by demanding the prosecution of all those responsible for the tragedy.

“With all my heart I congratulate the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and their president Estela Carlotto,” said UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.

“Their ceaseless effort has made it possible for 100 young people to rediscover their true identities, thereby setting right a flagrant injustice. This is an inspiring example of the defense of human rights.”

Previous winners of the prize include former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva; Nelson Mandela and Frederik W. De Klerk; Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat; King Juan Carlos of Spain and former United States President Jimmy Carter.

The award ceremony for the prize – which consists of $150,000, a gold medal and a diploma – will be held on a date to be announced.