Taslima Nasrin, winner of the 2004 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the promotion of tolerance and non-violenceBangladeshi writer and journalist Taslima Nasrin is the laureate of the 2004 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence. The Prize was attributed on the recommendation of an international jury, presided by Andrés Pastrana Arango, former President of Colombia, and endorsed by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura. It will be awarded in a ceremony at UNESCO Headquarters on November 16.
A qualified physician, Ms Nasrin began receiving public recognition in the late 1980s because of her writings against the oppression of women in some Asian countries. Facing death threats from Moslem fundamentalists, she continues fighting for a new civil code, based on gender equality, and for secular education.
Ms Nasrin has published more than 20 books in Bengali, some of which have been translated into more than 20 languages. She has won several distinctions, including the Indian literary award Ananda Puroshkar; the European Parliaments’ Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought and the Kurt Tucholsky Award from Swedish PEN.
The $100,000 UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize was created in 1995 thanks to the generosity of the Indian writer and diplomat Madanjeet Singh, who is also a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. Dedicated to advancing the spirit of tolerance in the arts, education, culture, science and communication, the Prize is awarded every two years to an individual or an institution for exceptional contributions in the field of tolerance promotion. Previous laureates are: Rwanda’s Pro-femmes Twese Hamwe association of 32 women’s groups (1996), Joint Action Committee for Peoples’ Rights (Pakistan) and the Indian anti-nuclear campaigner Narayan Desai (1998), Egyptian Pope Chenouda III, head of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church (2000), and to Nobel Peace Prize laureates Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar (2002).
On March 22 this year, Mr Singh and Mr Matsuura signed an agreement for the creation of the Madanjeet Singh Institute for Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage for which Mr Singh granted US$ 1 million. The training centre for Afghan cultural conservation specialists, presently under construction in Kabul, will be operated with UNESCO.
The author of a great many books, Mr Singh today presented his latest work The Sasia Story to the Director-General. The book presents its authors career and his links with the Organization, which date back to the 1950s. It will be translated into more than 20 Southeast Asian languages.