People in Need to present the prestigious Homo Homini Award for 2018 to Nicaraguan farmer Francisca Ramírez
Praha, 6. 2. 2019. “It’s an honor for us, our families, and our country,” says Francisca Ramírez – leader of a Nicaraguan democratic movement whose determination to stand up against land appropriation and an authoritarian regime has inspired human rights defenders throughout her country – of the Homo Homini Award. “I feel a responsibility to continue what we have started.” Ramírez will be presented the Homo Homini Award on 6 March at the opening ceremony of the One World Festival in Prague by Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, President of the Central Tibetan Administration and political successor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
From the difficult position of a poor farmer, Francisca Ramírez has managed to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people to demand the chance to influence decisions that affect their lives in one of the poorest countries in the western hemisphere, where the iron rule of President Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo is now in its thirteenth year. Because of her activities, Ramírez has been repeatedly detained, harasses, and threatened with death. Last August, she was forced to flee the country.
Like more than 50,000 others, she left Nicaragua for neighboring Costa Rica after a serious crisis erupted in her country in April 2018. The countrywide nonviolent protests against authoritarian President Ortega, which brought together people from various social classes, were violently suppressed by the government. At least 350 people lost their loves.
“My dream is a Nicaragua that will be built on equality, with a guarantee of freedom, justice, democracy, and the rule of law,” says Ramírez, who continues to support and organize Nicaragua’s democratic movement from outside the country. She first became interested in politics in 2013, when Nicaragua’s government signed a contract with Chinese company HKND Group for construction of the Nicaragua canal through the area. The contract gave HKND exclusive rights not only for the construction and subsequent operation of the canal, but also to build, operate, and administer numerous other related projects, including ports, railways, an oil pipeline, and an airport. Although construction has not begun, the contract enabled extensive land appropriations that affected the local inhabitants, including small-scale farmers, who have lived in the area for generations.
“We believe that such decisions must include the people who are the most affected, says Ramírez. “Citizen participation is important. You can’t let people decide about you without you.”
“Francisca Ramírez sets an inspiring example, because she showed that if ordinary individuals without power or money are able to unite, they become powerful in their efforts to protect their own homes, the environment and human rights,” says Sylva Horáková, director of People in Need’s Centre for Human Rights and Democracy. “She organized and stood on the front lines of more than 180 nonviolent protest marches attended by students, farmers, businessmen, activities, and journalists, giving them the strength to stand up for what they believe in.”
Francisca Ramírez, known at home as “Doña Chica,” will personally accept the award at the opening ceremony of the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival at Prague Crossroads. The award will be presented by Sikyong Lobsang Sangay, whose opening speech will touch on China’s growing international influence and the impacts of Chinese foreign policy on human rights. Since 2011, Dr. Sangay holds the highest political position of Sikyong, which has been handed over to him by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He advocates for a "Middle Way Approach" based on equality and mutual cooperation between Tibet and China and strives for a peaceful resolution of the Tibetan question.
Since the 1990s, People in Need has presented the Homo Homini Award to people and groups who have significantly contributed to the defense of human rights, democracy, and the nonviolent resolution of political conflicts. Past laureates include Chinese literary critic and dissident Liu Xiaobo, Azerbaijani lawyer Intiqam Aliyev, and Russia’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture.
For more information or if you are interested in arranging an interview with Francisca Ramírez or Lobsang Sangay, please contact:
Zuzana Gruberová, media coordinator, Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, firstname.lastname@example.org, +420 770 101 144