Bishop Bakare receiving an earlier Peace and Justice Award, March 2008
Zimbabwean bishop wins Swedish human rights prize
From Business Day (South Africa)
Stockholm - An Anglican bishop from Zimbabwe was today named winner of a Swedish human rights prize for "having given voice to the fight against oppression."
Bishop Sebastian Bakare was also cited for his work to promote "freedom of speech and of opinion in a difficult political situation." He was due to accept
the 2008 Per Anger prize at a ceremony in Stockholm on November 10, said Johan Perwe of the government agency Living History Forum.
Bakare, installed as bishop of Harare earlier this year, was also due to be keynote speaker at a human rights conference in Lulea, northern Sweden.
The agency said Bakare was an "important voice" who has "received threats
as a result of his open and clear criticism of the government, his condemnation
of local police brutality and his defence of human rights" in Zimbabwe.
The prize, worth 150,000 kronor, was created in 2004 in honour of Swedish
diplomat Per Anger and honours "people and organizations that risk their own
safety to defend the rights of the individual against oppression and
inhumanity." Anger was a close associate of Raoul Wallenberg, credited with
saving thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II.
The Living History Forum has been commissioned with promoting issues
relating to tolerance, democracy and human rights. Last year, Colombian human
rights group, Organizacion Femenina Popular (OFP), received the Per Anger
There is no doubt this prize is well deserved. It will also undoubtedly be used by the regime against him and the faithful Anglicans of Zimbabwe. Nonetheless foreign recognition is an important protector and all that can be done to keep the spotlight on the Mugabe regime is to be welcomed.
Bakare has been a brave man, refusing to be cowed by the authorities in Zimbabwe. Let us pray he will also be victorious.