The Student Peace Prize 2007 is awarded to the Burmese student activist, teacher and human rights activist Charm Tong.
The Student Peace Prize is awarded every second year on behalf of all students in Norway to a student or a student organisation that has done important work for human rights, democracy, peace and student rights.
The International Students’ Festival in Trondheim – ISFiT launched the prize in 1999. It was then awarded to the East Timor Student Solidarity Council – ETSSC and Antero Benedito da Silva from East Timor, for their work of reconciliation and broad-based participation in the decision making of East Timor’s future.
In 2001 the All Burma Federation of Student Unions with their leader Min Ko Naing received the Student Peace Prize. The students of Burma have been known for their courage, endurance and non violent means in the struggle against one of the world’s most brutal regimes and have made an admirable effort to restore human rights, democracy, academic freedom and peace in Burma. Min Ko Naing has since 1998 spent most of his time in prison, but was released on January 10th.
Zimbabwe National Students’ Union – ZINASU was awarded the peace prize in 2003 for their long and hard struggle for basic human rights under Robert Mugabe’s dictatorial regime.
The last Student Peace Prize laureate was Asociacion Colombiana de Estudiantes Universitarios – ACEU. The organisation has fought a long-lasting non-violent battle for a democratic and free Colombia and for student’s right to education and student-democracy.
Charm Tong is 25 years old and was born in Burma. Since the age of six, she has lived in Thailand where she now runs a school for Burmese refugees. She is one of the most pronounced members of exiled opposition and a co-founder of Shan Women’s Action Network that published the report “License to Rape” about human rights violations committed by the junta. Ms Tong presented this report to the World Social Forum in Mumbai and to the UNHCR in Geneva in 2004 where representatives of the junta also were present. She also met with President George W. Bush in 2005 where she discussed the issues of forced labour and the systematic use of rape in Myanmar. She became a laureate of the Marie Claire Women of the World Award in 2004 and the Reebok Human Rights Award in 2005.
Among the reasons for awarding Charm Tong the prize, we find: “In conflicts, women are often exclusively seen upon as victims, a category that also includes children. Tong is among those who pictures women as resources towards peace and development.”The Peace Prize Committee consisted of:
Kathrine Sund, President of Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund – SAIH
Petter Eide, President of Amnesty International Norway
Stein Tønneson, Director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo – PRIO
Linda M. Paulsen, Vice-president of the Norwegian Red Cross
Gro Brækken, Secretary General of Save the Children Norway
Caroline Khoury and Jørn Henriksen, Norwegian Student Union – NSU
Øyvind Bakke and Olav Øye, Norwegian Association of Students – StL