There has been a lot of chatter about our Dear Leader winning the Nobel Peace Prize for completing Jack and Squat, including some flat out laughter from George Stephanopoulos, so I’m not going to focus on that.
Instead I want to look at the other people who were in the running for the prize.
Ingrid Betancourt. She was kidnapped by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on 23 February 2002 and was rescued by Colombian security forces six and a half years later on 2 July 2008. The rescue operation, dubbed Operation Jaque, rescued Betancourt along with 14 other hostages (three Americans and 11 Colombian policemen and soldiers). In all, she was held captive for 2,321 days after being taken while campaigning for the Colombian presidency as a Green. She had decided to campaign in rebel controlled areas despite warnings from the government, police and military not to do so. Her kidnapping received worldwide coverage, particularly in France, because of her dual French citizenship.
Dr. Sima Samar, she practiced medicine at a government hospital in Kabul, but after a few months was forced to flee for her safety to her native Jaghoori, where she provided medical treatment to patients throughout the remote areas of central Afghanistan.
In 1984, the communist regime arrested her husband, and Samar and her young son fled to the safety of nearby Pakistan. She then worked as a doctor at the refugee branch of the Mission Hospital. Distressed by the total lack of health care facilities for Afghan refugee women, she established in 1989 the Shuhada Organization and Shuhada Clinic in Quetta, Pakistan.
After living in refuge for over a decade, Samar returned to Afghanistan in 2002 to assume a cabinet post in the Afghan Transitional Administration. In the interim government, she served as Deputy President and then as Minister for Women’s Affairs. She was forced into resignation from her post after she was threatened with death and harassed for questioning conservative Islamic laws, especially sharia law, during an interview in Canada with a Persian-language newspaper. During the 2003 Loya Jirga, several religious conservatives took out an ad in a local newspaper calling Samar the Salman Rushdie of Afghanistan.
Dr. Samar publicly refuses to accept that women must be kept in purdah(secluded from the public) and speaks out against the wearing of the burqa(head-to-foot wrap), which was enforced first by the fundamentalist mujahideen and then by the Taliban. She also has drawn attention to the fact that many women in Afghanistan suffer from osteomalacia, a softening of the bones, due to an inadequate diet. Wearing the burqa reduces exposure to sunlight and aggravates the situation for women suffering from osteomalacia.
Hu Jia is an activist and dissident in the People’s Republic of China. His work has focused on the Chinese democracy movement, Chinese environmentalist movement, and HIV/AIDS in the People’s Republic of China. Hu is the director of June Fourth Heritage & Culture Association, and he has been involved with AIDS advocacy as the executive director of the Beijing Aizhixing Institute of Health Education.
Thich Quang Do: He has spent his entire life fighting for freedom of religion in Vietnam. He has spent the past thirty years being exiled, imprisoned, and persecuted.