The prolific and respected Burmese human rights lawyer Robert San Aung has been honoured with a nomination for the Tipperary International Peace Award. He is among five nominees to be shortlisted.
His activism in some of the most high-profile legal cases in Burma over the past 40 years has seen him face harassment and persecution. He has been imprisoned six times.
The prize, which has been awarded annually since 1984 by the Tipperary Peace Convention, honours those who have worked nationally and internationally to promote values of peace. Previous recipients include Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev and the young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafazi.
Robert San Aung’s recent cases include the defence of three of the activists from the Latpadaung copper mine protests, who are charged with defamation of the state and disturbing officials on duty. He also represented the four reporters of Unity Weekly, who were sentenced to seven years imprisonment for violating the States Secret Act after reporting about a factory that was allegedly producing chemical weapons in Magwe District.
He is currently acting as legal counsel for Ma Thandar, the widow of Par Gyi, the activist and reporter who was killed by the army in opaque circumstances. In an ongoing saga, Ma Thandar and her supporters maintain that Par Gyi was tortured before his death, but the army and the Myanmar National Human Rights Council deny this, insisting that he was shot dead as he tried to escape from his captors.
Besides Robert San Aung, this year’s shortlist for the prize includes Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental; Médecins Sans Frontières; Sr. Stanilaus Kennedy, Fr. Peter McVerry and Bro. Kevin Crowley, nominated collectively for their work on homelessness; and Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon.
The recipient will be announced later this year in Tipperary, Ireland.