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U.S. editorial excerpts -3-.

NEW YORK, May 14 Kyodo

Selected editorial excerpts from the U.S. press:

A PRIZE FOR CREATIVE DISSENT (The Wall Street Journal, New York)

Imagine the dejection of Russian human-rights activists as Vladimir Putin takes up the third term of his presidency for life. Or of Syrian street demonstrators, as Bashar al-Assad's troops shoot and shell them with impunity. So it is worth celebrating a glimmer of inspiration from Norway.

That is where the inaugural Vaclav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent -- funded in part by Sergei Brin and Peter Thiel -- was awarded to three individuals who represent what the late Havel called ''the power of the powerless.''

Ai Weiwei, 54, uses art, journalism and round-the-clock tweets to campaign for freedom and the rule of law in China. After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, he took up the cause of the thousands of children who died when their poorly built schools collapsed -- while nearby government offices remained standing.

As the government suppressed information to keep that contrast quiet, Ai scoured records to create a database of victims. In 2009, he covered the facade of a Munich art museum with 9,000 children's backpacks, spelling out in bright Chinese characters a mother's lament for her 7-year-old daughter. Such activism has earned Ai beatings, jail time and trumped-up tax-evasion charges. After police beat him nearly to death in 2009, he made sure to tweet images of his brain scans to his followers.

The second laureate is Manal al-Sharif, a 33-year-old Saudi woman jailed last year for driving while female. After she posted video of her crime on YouTube and Facebook, some Saudis praised her while others called for her flogging.

The third Havel Prize went to Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose creativity is seen in decades of determination -- including 15 years under house arrest -- to keep international pressure on Burma's hermetic leaders. This year for the first time, her National League for Democracy has been allowed to gain minority power in parliament.

Suu Kyi's odyssey is, as Havel's was, a reminder that defeating tyranny is often a lifetime struggle. Kudos to the Human Rights Foundation for inaugurating a prize celebrating those who threaten to bring down the world's oppressors.

(May 14)
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Publication:Asian Political News
Article Type:Editorial
Date:May 21, 2012
Words:370
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