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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

John Pilger wins 2009 Sydney Peace Prize

John Pilger

John Pilger has been awarded the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize.

The jury’s citation reads as follows: 'For work as an author, film-maker and journalist as well as for courage as a foreign and war correspondent in enabling the voices of the powerless to be heard. For commitment to peace with justice by exposing and holding governments to account for human rights abuses and for fearless challenges to censorship in any form.'

Sydney Peace Foundation Director Professor Stuart Rees said: "The jury was impressed by John’s courage as well as by his skills and creativity. His commitment to uncovering human rights abuses shines through his numerous books, films and articles. His work inspires all those who value peace with justice."

John Pilger responded: "Coming from my homeland and the city where I was born and grew up, this is an honour I shall cherish, with the hope that it encourages young Australian journalists, writers and film-makers to break the silences that perpetuate injustice both faraway and close to home."

The Foundation has cited various examples of John Pilger's work - 2004 film 'Stealing A Nation', the story of the British and American governments’ secret ‘mass kidnappings’ of a whole population of the Chagos Islands in the Indian ocean to make way for an American military base; his 1979 film 'Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia', which depicted the horrors of the Pol Pot regime and the plight of the Khmer people; 1994's 'Death of a Nation', shot under cover in East Timor, which galvanized world wide support for the East Timorese people; and his re-making of the film 'Palestine is Still the Issue', which reminds the world of a continuing occupation and cruel injustice.

Other distinguished recipients of Australia’s only international prize for peace have included previous Nobel recipients Professor Muhammad Yunus and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Indian author and human rights campaigner Arundhati Roy and, last year, the Aboriginal leader and ‘father of reconciliation’ Patrick Dodson.

On Wednesday 4 November 2009 John Pilger will receive the Sydney Peace Prize at a gala ceremony in the Maclaurin Hall at the University of Sydney. On Thursday 5 November, he will give the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture in the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House. The following morning, he will be the guest of 1500 high school students at a peace festival hosted by Cabramatta High School.

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