Nobel for Malala, ex-Eastern bloc activists?

February 02, 2013 - 2:55:29 am

OSLO: Malala Yousafzai, the shot Pakistani schoolgirl-turned-icon of Taliban resistance, and ex-Eastern bloc activists are among those known to be nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, as the deadline expired yesterday.

The award will be announced in October, but speculation was underway as the deadline ended.

Malala, 15, was shot by a Taliban gunman at point blank range as she travelled on a bus to school on October 9, targeted for promoting girls’ education.

She has since become an international symbol of opposition to the Taliban’s drive to deny women education, and against religious extremism in a country where women’s rights are often flouted.

“A prize to Malala would not only be timely and fitting with a line of awards to champions of human rights and democracy, but also would set children and education on the peace and conflict agenda,” said the head of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, Kristian Berg Harpviken.

Others nominated are rights activists whose names have been mentioned in previous years, including Belarussian human rights activist Ales Belyatski — behind bars — and Russia’s Lyudmila Alexeyeva.

Belarus, which former US President George W Bush’s administration qualified as the “the last dictatorship in Europe”, is governed by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has cracked down further on opponents, rights groups charge.

In neighbouring Russia, authorities “unleashed the worst political crackdown in Russia’s post-Soviet history,” according to Human Rights Watch.

Thousands of people are eligible to nominate candidates, including former laureates, MPs, and governments, university professors and members of international organisations, and they are allowed to reveal the names.

French, Canadian and Norwegian MPs have separately nominated Malala. Beliatsky’s and Alexeyeva’s names have been put forward by two Norwegian lawmakers.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said that a nomination should not be interpreted as a recognition on its behalf.  AFP