Alternative Nobels go to nuclear, gay and climate activists

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Stockholm (dpa) – Activists promoting nuclear disarmament, combating climate change in Arctic areas, fighting discrimination of gays in Africa and helping victims of conflict were recognized Thursday with the awards known as the Alternative Nobel Prizes.

The jury selecting the winners of the Right Livelihood Awards highlighted how the people of the Marshall Islands and their foreign minister, Tony de Brum, have fought to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

The small Pacific nation, which was the site of 67 nuclear bomb tests conducted by the United States, filed a case in 2014 before the International Court of Justice against the nine nuclear weapons states over their “failure to negotiate in good faith towards global nuclear disarmament” in line with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Right Livelihood Foundation said.

In addition to the US, the other nuclear states are Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and Russia.

Canadian-born Inuit leader Sheila Watt-Cloutier was recognized for her “lifelong work” to protect the Inuit of the Arctic and their “livelihoods and culture, which are acutely threatened by climate change,” the Stockholm-based foundation said.

The jury also recognized Ugandan human rights activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera for her “courage and persistence despite violence and intimidation” to protect the rights of gays, bisexuals, transexuals and intersex people in Uganda.

The African country has in recent years generated headlines over tough anti-gay legislation and its persecution of minorities, which Nabagesera has challenged in the courts.

Also recognized was Gino Strada of Italy, who co-founded the relief group Emergency, which provides medical services “to the victims of conflict and injustice.”

The group has provided medical assistance to more than 6 million people and has worked in 15 countries, building hospitals and first aid centres, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

Watt-Cloutier, Nabagesera and Strada were each to receive 1 million kronor (150,000 dollars) while the Marshall Islands and de Brun won an honorary award.

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