UN Watch recently announced that Cuban activist Rosa Maria Paya has been named the winner of this year’s Morris Abrams Award for her tireless and courageous defense of freedom, democracy, and human rights.
UN Watch Announces Human Rights Award For Leading Cuban Dissident Rosa María Payá
UN Watch announced today that Rosa María Payá, one of Cuba’s leading pro-democracy activists and the daughter of the late dissident Oswaldo Paya, will receive the Swiss organization’s highest human rights award at the 2019 UN Watch Annual Gala Dinner on Thursday, June 13th in Geneva.
“Rosa María Payá was chosen for her courageous defense of freedom, liberal democracy and universal human rights,” said Hillel Neuer, UN Watch Executive Director. “Her mission to free the Cuban people from dictatorship has never been more vital.”
Ms. Payá is the daughter of renowned Cuban dissident and democracy advocate Oswaldo Payá, who was killed in 2012 under mysterious circumstances. Today, Ms. Payá carries on the work of her father, who founded the democratic Christian Liberation Movement and received the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
“With this great honor, you give me the opportunity to raise the voice of the Cuban people, who each day, are stripped of their human rights and dignity by the ruling regime,” said Ms. Payá.
“The support of the international community is essential to achieve democracy and liberation for my country,” she added. “This award gives us hope that the change is closer every day.”
Leader of Cuban Democracy Campaign
Ms. Payá advocates for Cuban democracy both through local efforts in Cuba and international initiatives.
She is the leader of the Cuba Decide, a non-partisan group calling for a binding national referendum on the question of holding free, democratic elections in Cuba.
Under Payá’s leadership, the group campaigned during municipal elections in November 2017 for voters to annul their ballots to protest the lack of free and fair elections. Following the campaign, more than 30% of voters annulled their ballots at sites that the group monitored throughout the country.
Beyond her efforts on the ground in Cuba, Ms. Payá is a leading voice advocating for international pressure on Cuba and has raised the issue through passionate appeals at the UN Human Rights Council, the European Parliament, the US Congress, the Organization of American States, the Summit of the Americas and several national parliaments.
Her strategic efforts have led to concrete actions including the passing of a U.S. Senate Resolution in 2018.
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Congratulations, Rosa Maria!