Statement of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative on the Passing of 2018 Aurora Prize Laureate Kyaw Hla Aung
02-08-2021 19:23:10 | Armenia | Press release
We mourn the loss of esteemed lawyer Kyaw Hla Aung (1941–2021) who had dedicated his life to fighting injustice and advocating for the Rohingya people in Myanmar
Though imprisoned for a collective 12 years for ‘crimes’ including filing petitions and protesting peacefully, Kyaw Hla Aung had never stopped using his skills as an attorney to seek justice for the millions of Rohingya Muslims subject to persecution in and fleeing from Myanmar. Mr. Aung had faced both personal and systemic challenges in protecting a community threatened in its own homeland, but never backed down.
After being named the 2018 Aurora Prize Laureate, Mr. Kyaw Hla Aung had chosen to allocate the $1,000,000 award to three international organizations providing medical aid and assistance to Rohingya refugees across Southeast Asia: Médecins Sans Frontières, the International Catholic Migration Commission, and MERCY Malaysia. Overall, their efforts have benefitted approximately 375,000 Rohingya refugees to date, giving them a second chance and hope for a better tomorrow.
Kyaw Hla Aung had witnessed and felt firsthand the effects of suffocating regulations constantly inflicted upon the Rohingya community. Armed with little more than his knowledge of the law and a tireless determination, he had been successful in battling the inequalities of the system in Myanmar and helping his fellow Rohingya brothers and sisters seek justice.
Aurora offers our heartfelt condolences and sympathy to Mr. Kyaw Hla Aung’s family. He will be greatly missed by the global humanitarian community and his treasured memory will live on in our hearts.
Noubar Afeyan, Ruben Vardanyan, Co-Founders
Lord Ara Darzi, Chair, Aurora Prize Selection Committee
Dr. Tom Catena, Chair, Aurora Humanitarian Initiative
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About the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative
The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is a foundation that seeks to address on-the-ground humanitarian challenges around the world with the focus on helping the most destitute. Its mission is rooted in the Armenian history as the Initiative was founded on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors and strives to transform this experience into a global movement.
All Aurora’s activities are based on the universal concept of Gratitude in Action. It implies that countless people around the world who have received aid in time of crisis can best express their gratitude by offering similar assistance to someone else. By involving Aurora supporters around the world, this will become a global endeavor that will snowball to expand the circle of saviors and most importantly – the number of those saved.
Addressing urgent humanitarian challenges, the Initiative provides a second chance to those who need it the most. True to its vision – “We believe that even in the darkest times, a brighter future is in the hands of those who are committed to giving others help and hope” – Aurora welcomes all who embrace this philosophy.
This eight-year commitment (2015 to 2023, in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923) aims to promote action-based philanthropy focused on tangible results. This is achieved through the Initiative’s various programs: Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity, Aurora for Artsakh, #AraratChallenge movement, Aurora Dialogues, Aurora Grants, Aurora Community, Aurora Index, and the 100 LIVES Initiative.
The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is the vision of philanthropists Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan who have been joined by thousands of supporters and partners. Aurora’s Chair, Dr. Tom Catena, draws on his experience as a surgeon, veteran, humanitarian and the 2017 Aurora Prize laureate to spread the message of Gratitude in Action to a global audience.
The Aurora Humanitarian Initiative is represented by three organizations – the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Foundation, Inc. (New York, USA), the 100 Lives Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland) and the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative Charitable Foundation (Yerevan, Armenia).
About the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity
The Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity is a global humanitarian award. Its mission is to recognize and support those who risk their own lives, health or freedom to save the lives, health or freedom of others suffering as a result of violent conflict, atrocity crimes or other major human rights violations. The Aurora Prize Laureate is selected based on the nominee’s demonstration of courage, commitment and impact.
On behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, an Aurora Prize Laureate is honored each year between 2015 and 2023 (in remembrance of the eight years of the Armenian Genocide 1915-1923) with a US $1,000,000 award, which gives the Laureate a unique opportunity to continue the cycle of giving and to support the organizations that have inspired their humanitarian action.
The Aurora Prize Selection Committee is comprised of Nobel Laureates Shirin Ebadi and Leymah Gbowee; former president of Ireland Mary Robinson; human rights activist Hina Jilani; former president of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo; Médecins Sans Frontières Co-founder and former foreign minister of France Bernard Kouchner; former CEO of Unilever and Co-founder and Chair of IMAGINE Paul Polman; human rights activist and Co-founder of The Sentry John Prendergast and President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian (1934-2021). The Committee is chaired by the Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London Lord Ara Darzi.
World famous peace and human rights activist Benjamin Ferencz and Academy Award-winning actor and humanitarian George Clooney are the Committee’s Honorary Co-Chairs, and its honorary members include two-time President of Costa Rica and Nobel Laureate Oscar Arias; Artistic and General Director of Mariinsky Theatre and Principal Conductor of the Munich Philharmoniker Valery Gergiev and former foreign minister of Australia and President Emeritus of the International Crisis Group Gareth Evans.
We honor the memory of Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), inaugural Selection Committee Co-Chair, President of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity; Nobel Laureate.