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Some nominees for Nobel Peace Prize laudable, some laughable

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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013 10:55 pm

Today, the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded.

Perhaps as you read this column, the winner has already been announced.

Indeed, the Nobel Peace Prize is a prestigious award to receive, and it’s probable that records will be broken this year.

According to NobelPeacePrize.org, the 259 nominations have set the record for most nominees for a single Nobel Prize.

An eclectic assemblage of statesmen, activists, writers and others nominated for the prize throughout history remind us of why the Nobel Peace Prize is an important recognition.

For instance, Martin Luther King Jr. was awarded the 1964 prize for his nonviolent struggle for civil rights.

The 1990 award was presented to Mikhail Gorbachev for his role in dismantling the international peace process.

Alfred Nobel, according to the Nobel Peace Prize website, stated in his will the prize should be awarded to “the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

Abiding by such criteria, the nominations of fascists like Stalin and Mussolini should arouse question — if not disgust — in the historian’s mind.

I mention the dictators because this year, confirmed by the Washington Times and to my own irritation, Vladimir Putin was nominated.

The immediate inclination is that whoever nominated the pseudo-Tsarist did so with the same intention of E.G.C Brandt, the Swedish parliamentarian who nominated Hitler as a joke.

However, the nomination serves as no joke. The Russian president was nominated for his role in the Syrian arms agreement.

It would be callous and an unreasonable disservice to give the award to Putin when he shares the nomination category with brave individuals such as the members of Pussy Riot or the 16-year-old Malala Yousafzai or even Chelsea Manning.

All of these people have been affirmed as candidates by MSN news and have done something extraordinary at their own expense.

Malala was shot in the head for resisting the Taliban and endorsing the education of women.

The Russian punk rock-band Pussy Riot was jailed for its performance of a song in a church. According to the Guardian, one of the members was faced with a 17-hour workday while on a hunger strike.

Ostensibly, 2013 has been privy to some of the most inspirational heroines, and the struggle for equality between men and women continues.

This brings me to my favorite candidate: Dr. Denis Mukwege.

Mukwege, according to the Guardian, is a Congolese gynecologist who has spent 14 years in one of the most tumultuous war zones on earth, providing medical care to victims of violent rape.

The Guardian reported that Mukwege has treated more than 30,000 rape victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an accomplishment that deserves to be lauded without restraint.

So as you read this, remember that regardless of who has won the award, there are a number of deserving individuals who operate invisibly in the name of human rights every day without recognition or applause.

Richard Vieira is a UF political science senior. His column runs on Fridays. A version of this column ran on page 6 on 10/11/2013 under the headline "Who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize?"

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