Sri Lanka’s UTHR gets top human rights award

May 4, 2007 (LBO) – Two Sri Lankan nationals founders of the have University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR) have won a top award for their work together with an activist in Burundi, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Friday.

The 2007 Martin Ennals Award went to Rajan Hoole and Kopalasingham Sritharan, co-founders of the UTHR.

“At great personal risk they have reported on the effects of armed conflict on children, women, minorities and displaced persons over the past 18 years,” HRW said in a statement.

“Often alone in exposing abuses by parties on all sides, both men are under death sentences from the LTTE.”

They shared the award with Pierre Claver Mbonimpa an ex-policeman in Burundi who was imprisoned by false accusations and later founded an organization to help prisoners especially those who have been awaiting trial for years in jail.

Since the assassination of their colleague, Rajani Thiranagama, the two men have been forced to work underground for more than a decade, but their reports are well known in Sri Lanka and abroad, HRW said.

HRW quoting the the Chairman award panel Hans Thoolen said, laureates were “symbols of the human rights movement in their respective countries, where standi