WASHINGTON - As our nation struggles with divisions over immigration policies, human rights, and foreign policy, the Institute for Policy Studies will bring together hundreds of people committed to celebrating social justice. The annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards will honor the efforts of three human rights groups Â one for obtaining rights for domestic day laborers in the United States, one for holding the government of Honduras to a new standard, and one for a Guatemalan organization that has amassed the largest collection of police archives in history.
The event will be held at the National Press Club in Washington on October 13.The awards are given in honor of two IPS staffers Â Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt Â who were murdered on September 21, 1976 as they drove to work. The car bomb responsible for their deaths was found to be directly connected to the regime of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, of which Letelier had become a leading critic. Chile is celebrating 200 years of independence this fall.
ÂThe ironic juxtaposition of celebrating freedom while fighting for equal rights serves as a humble reminder of the work set before us. It seems almost fitting for the remembrance of two IPS staffers who were killed to silence that effort,Â says IPS Interim Director Joy Zarembka.
The National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) relies on grassroots outreach and advocacy to connect with its 30-plus member groups working to establish efficient organization and mobilization of the countryÂs day laborers. By fostering programs like neighborhood defense committees, the network seeks to establish unity and respect for the day laborerÂs position in society, so as to Âearn a living, contribute to society, and integrate into the community.Â Executive Director Pablo Alvarado will accept the award.
The Honduras Human Rights Platform (Plataforma de Derechos Humanos de Honduras) is composed of six prominent human rights organizations in the country. It has strived since the June 28, 2009 military coup to provide the Honduran people with accurate information about their government. It continues to vigorously call on the newly imposed government to investigate the increasing number of murdered journalists and activists, while many community, civil and rights groups in the country continue to receive threats. The award will be accepted by Bertha Oliva de Nativi, the director of the Committee of Family Members of Detained and Disappeared people in Honduras (COFADEH), and Juan Almendares Bonilla, the director of the Center of Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture (C.T.P.R.T).
The Guatemalan National Police Archives (Recuperación del Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional) is a project of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group aimed at decoding almost 75 million documents related to the former National Police, which was proved to be responsible for thousands of systematic murders and disappearances throughout the countryÂs 36-year civil war.