Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl-turned-icon of Taliban resistance, and ex-Eastern bloc activists are among those known to be nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, as the deadline expired on Friday.
This year’s award will be announced in early October, but speculation was already underway as the deadline for nominations ran out on February 1.
Malala, 15, was shot by a Taliban gunman at point blank range as she travelled on a bus to school on October 9, targeted for promoting girls’ education.
She has since become an internationally recognised symbol of opposition to the Taliban’s drive to deny women education, and against religious extremism. It is known that French, Canadian and Norwegian MPs have all separately nominated Malala.
“A prize to Malala would not only be timely and fitting with a line of awards to champions of human rights and democracy, but also … would set both children and education on the peace and conflict agenda,” said the head of the Peace Research Institute of Oslo, Kristian Berg Harpviken.
Others known to have been nominated are human rights activists, whose names have been mentioned in previous years, including Belarussian human rights activist Ales Belyatski – currently behind bars – and Russia’s Lyudmila Alexeyeva.
Belarus, which former US President George W. Bush’s administration had branded as the “the last dictatorship in Europe”, is governed by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko, who has cracked down even further on opponents of late, rights groups charge.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee is made up of five members designated by the Norwegian parliament. It has been known to come up with some surprising – and occasionally controversial – choices, as in 2009 when it honoured US President Barack Obama just months after he took office, or last year when it gave the nod to the crisis-ravaged European Union.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee is quick to point out that a nomination should not be interpreted as any kind of recognition on its behalf. [AFP]