John Pilger, renowned journalist, author and filmmaker, has been awarded the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize.
Announcing the prize, Sydney Peace Foundation director Professor Stuart Rees said: "The jury was impressed by John's courage as well as by his skills and creativity. His commitment to uncovering human rights abuses shines through his numerous books, films and articles. His work inspires all those who value peace with justice."
The jury made the decision on the basis of Pilger's "courage as a foreign and war correspondent in enabling the voices of the powerless to be heard". It also praised his "commitment to peace with justice by exposing and holding governments to account for human rights abuses and for fearless challenges to censorship in any form".
Pilger said it was an "honour I shall cherish".
He hoped it would "[encourage] young Australian journalists, writers and film-makers to break the silences that perpetuate injustice both faraway and close to home".
Pilger's commitment to expose injustices has included the account of the British and US governments' secret "mass kidnappings" of an entire population of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean to make way for an American military base.
His 1979 film Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia depicted the horrors of the Pol Pot regime and the plight of the Khmer people. In 1994, Death of a Nation: the Timor conspiracy galvanised worldwide support for the East Timorese people. Palestine is Still the Issue reminded the world of a continuing occupation and cruel injustice.
Pilger is a supporter of Green Left Weekly, and
Previous recipients of Australia's only international peace prize have included previous Nobel recipients Professor Muhammad Yunus and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson, Indian author and human rights campaigner Arundhati Roy and, last year, Aboriginal leader and "father of reconciliation" Patrick Dodson.
Pilger will be awarded the 2009 Sydney Peace Prize on November 4 at the Maclaurin Hall at the University of Sydney. The next day he will deliver the City of Sydney Peace Prize Lecture in the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House. And on November 6, Pilger will be the guest of 1500 high school students at a peace festival hosted by Cabramatta High School.