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Assange awarded Sydney peace medal
Melbourne, Feb 2 (Agencies):
Published on 2 Feb. 2011 10:05 PM IST
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Hounded worldwide, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been honoured back home by Sydney Peace foundation with a gold medal for showing “exceptional courage” and initiative in pursuit of human rights.
The honour was previously given only to the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela and Japanese lay Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda in the foundation’s 14-year history.
Assange has been chosen by the foundation to receive a rare gold medal for peace with justice for showing “exceptional courage and initiative in pursuit of human rights”, the media reports said here.
Foundation director Stuart Rees said Assange’s work had challenged the old order of power in politics and journalism. “Peace from our point of view is really about justice, fairness and the attainment of human rights,” Rees was quoted as saying by Australian news agency AAP.
“Assange has championed people’s right to know and has challenged the centuries-old tradition that governments are entitled to keep the public in a state of ignorance.” Assange was informed of the award last month and said it would be an “enormous pleasure and honour” to receive it, Rees said.
The gold medal is distinct from the annual Sydney Peace Prize awarded by the foundation. By leaking thousands of US diplomatic cables, Assange had made a historically significant contribution to the operation of democracy, the Sydney Peace Foundation’s executive decided.
“Wikileaks has exposed the extent to which governments, the military and business all over the world have used secrecy to cloak their real intentions and activities,” it said.
The foundation said the award would be presented to him in Sydney in mid-May or at a ceremony in London later in the year, depending on his whereabouts.
Rees said the organisation would do everything necessary to ensure the award was given to Assange in person.
Each of the previous gold medal recipients had been given their awards in face-to-face ceremonies, he said.
“Even if we have to travel secretly and announce the award later, we will do that,” Rees said.
The Sydney Peace Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation set up in 1998 within the University of Sydney and aims to promote peace and justice in Australia.

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