Wednesday, June 09, 2010

BIOGRAPHY

Sushil Pyakurel

Sushil Pyakurel is the President of the Accountability Watch Committee (AWC), Nepal, and a member of the Dialogue Group for the Constituent Assembly. He is also the founder and former Chairperson of the Nepalese human rights organization INSEC and a former Commissioner of Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).

For over two decades Pyakurel has been actively involved in the promotion and protection of human rights and democracy in Nepal. In 1984 he co-founded the Forum for the Protection of Human Rights, the first human rights organization in Nepal. This was the first of many organizations founded and managed by Pyakurel in the course of his long and impressive career in the field of human rights. In 1985 he was appointed General Secretary of Forum for Democracy and National United (FODENU) and in 1987 he became a founding member of the Free Political Prisoners Campaign. As Pyakurel’s reputation grew, he became known not only as a local leader but also as a national representative of Nepal. For example in 1989 he had the opportunity to lead the Nepalese delegation to “People’s Plan for 21st Century” (PP21) held in Japan. In the same year Pyakurel founded the Informal Service Center (INSEC), which has gone on to become a leading human rights organization in Nepal. Pyakurel held the office of Chairperson of INSEC for ten years, during which he often represented his country at the international level and explained the human rights situation in Nepal to global actors. In 1990, for instance, he participated in the World NGO Congress on Human Rights, New Delhi, India, and in 1993 he attended the UN World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna as a member of Nepalese NGO delegation.

After ten years with INSEC, Pyakurel took the post of Vice-president of the Asian Network for free election (ANFREL), an international organization monitoring the election process which focuses on Asia and the Pacific. This role once again put him in close contact with the international community.

In the 2000s Pyakurel made several significant and, on occasion, controversial contributions to the field of human rights. Most notably, he boldly criticized the King of Nepal’s decision to assume executive state power on 1st February 2005. As a result, he was burdened with travel restrictions until 20th March. On this date his travel restrictions were unwillingly relaxed following the submission of a letter written by eight US Senators and pressure from the international community. Soon after this, the Nepalese Government permitted him to visit the USA where he had the opportunity to brief the US Senate and other political leaders and international human rights organizations about the human rights situation in Nepal following the royal takeover. Around this time he was also invited to address the European Parliament with regards to the human right situation in Nepal, where he raised the issue of sanctioning the royal family and others involved in the royal oppression.
Since the peace agreement of November 2006, Pyakurel has been engaged in raising national and international attention and support for elections to the constituent assembly. In 2008 Pyakurel was appointed President of the Accountability Watch Committee. AWC is a loose national network of individuals and organizations working in the fields of human rights, rule of law, accountability and transitional justice in Nepal. It aims to bring together the “fragmented efforts of civil society” through advocacy and coordination. The organization also seeks to arrest the spread of impunity and to address the needs of those suffering continued human rights abuses.
Other the course of his career Pyakurel has made a strong impact on the human rights situation both in Nepal and in the international arena. His personal commitment to human rights has won him the respect of a diverse range of social and political actors. As a result of his involvement, the seven political parties (SPA) and the Maoists have all agreed to respect certain human rights principles. He also played a crucial role in pushing for the establishment of the Office of High Commissioner in Nepal at the 61st annual meeting of the UNHRC, using his in-depth knowledge of human rights in Nepal and his understanding of the United Nations and the international community.
His efforts and longstanding reputation in this field have gained Pyakurel extensive recognition. In 1991 he received a Letter of Outstanding Contribution from His Majesty’s Government’s Committee on Investigation of Cases of Disappearances during the Panchayat regime, and in 1997 he received the National Award for Outstanding Social Activist from Antarastriya Manch (International Forum) Magazine. His contribution is also recognized at the local level, and in 1998 he received an award from the Organization of Downtrodden Communities for supporting their movement fighting against untouchability and social discrimination.

To commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the May 18 Democratic Uprising, the May 18 Memorial Foundation is awarding the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights 2010 to Sushil Pyakurel. Just as the May 18 Democratic Uprising expressed the spirit of the citizens of Gwangju who protested against the usurpation of power by the military regime, so Pyakurel’s life reveals a spirit which will not succumb to physical oppression and imprisonment. In this way Pyakurel’s life and spirit run parallel to the spirit of the May 18 Democratic Uprising. In awarding this prize to Sushil Pyakurel, the Award Committee hopes that his life and work will continue to promote the values of May 18 by developing democracy and human rights in Nepal. We hereby offer our sincere congratulations to Sushil Pyakurel and present this prize to him in the spirit of international solidarity.

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