A Bahrain-based organization that has promoted freedom of speech and other human rights in the Gulf state was Thursday named winner of the 2013 Rafto Prize by a Norwegian human rights foundation, dpa reported.
Awarding the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) would "turn the spotlight on the systematic violations of human rights in a region where abuse is too often met with silence from western governments," the jury of the Rafto Prize said.
Worth 10,000 dollars, the prize was created in 1986 in memory of Thorolf Rafto, a Norwegian academic and human rights activist.
The award is due to be presented on November 3 in Bergen, Norway.
The BCHR was set up 2002, and has advocated non-violent protests against the current Bahraini government, and effectively used Facebook and Twitter to spread its message, the jury said.
Protests in Bahrain have been quelled with heavy-handed measures and many activists have been imprisoned, often risking torture, the Rafto Foundation said.
Several key figures in the BCHR have been jailed, including Nabeel Rajab, president of the centre BCHR. He was imprisoned in August 2012 for having criticised the prime minister on Twitter.
Last year, Nigerian Nnimmo Bassey was awarded the prize for his commitment to environmentalism and human rights.
Previous Rafto Prize winners include Myanmar's opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi. The two are among four Rafto winners who later received the Nobel Peace Prize.
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