YEREVAN, Armenia, April 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- At the first-ever Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity Ceremony, Aurora Prize Selection Committee Co-Chair George Clooney delivered the following remarks:
Years before anyone uttered the word genocide, there was Armenia. And although the actual word was yet to be introduced we were well aware of its characteristics.
Cruelty has always been at the core. Not self-defense. Not simply war. But the deliberate destruction of an entire people.
It happened to Armenians starting 101 years ago and we've seen it repeated all over the world since.
Germany. Cambodia. Bosnia. Rwanda.
I've seen it first hand in the broken limbs and broken families and broken hearts of the people of Darfur.
So I've seen what mankind is capable of at its worst. But I've also seen something else, something much stronger than hate.
I've seen bravery and kindness and incredible acts of love.
Tonight we celebrate the best examples of that.
The simple truth is that all of us here tonight, are the result of someone's act of kindness. The Clooney family fled a famine in Ireland to come to the United States where their very survival required a room, a meal, a helping hand.
We all stand on the shoulders of good people who didn't look away when we were in need. It might have been 101 years ago or it might have been last year.
If we are to survive as a people we simply can't look away.
Not from the people of Syria or South Sudan or the Congo.
We call them refugees, but they're just people, like you and me. And if you stand right in front of them and take a look deep into their eyes, you might just see an Irish farmer fleeing a famine or a young Armenian woman named Aurora looking for home.
We've all been given the gift of humanity at some time in our history.
Tonight's award celebrates heroism and bravery far beyond what most of us could do in a lifetime. And, our nominees didn't graduate from some hero school. They were just everyday people who saw a need and did something about it. Something extraordinary.
And so tonight we honor them. And in doing so we honor the million and a half lives that were lost 101 years ago.
And we honor those lives by calling their tragedy by its true name. Genocide.
The Armenian Genocide.
Hitler once famously said, "but who remembers Armenia?"
The answer is the whole world.
Notes to Editors
On behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors, an Aurora Prize Laureate will be honored each year.
Marguerite Barankitse from Maison Shalom and REMA Hospital in Burundi was named as the inaugural Laureate of the $1 million Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity. At a ceremony held in Yerevan, Armenia, Barankitse was recognized for the extraordinary impact she has had in saving thousands of lives and caring for orphans and refugees during the years of civil war in Burundi.
As the first Aurora Prize Laureate, Barankitse will receive a $100,000 grant and continue the cycle of giving by donating the accompanying $1,000,000 award to organizations that have inspired her work. Barankitse plans to donate the award to three organizations in order to advance aid and rehabilitation for child refugees and orphans, and fight against child poverty. These organizations are: the Fondation du Grand-Duc et de La Grande-Duchesse du Luxembourg, Fondation Jean-François Peterbroeck (JFP Foundation), and the Fondation Bridderlech Deelen Luxembourg.
Guests also celebrated the exceptional contributions of the other three finalists for the Aurora Prize: Dr. Tom Catena, from Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan; Syeda Ghulam Fatima, the General Secretary of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front in Pakistan; and Father Bernard Kinvi, a Catholic Priest in Bossemptele, Central African Republic (CAR).
Leading humanitarian figures and Aurora Prize Selection Committee members, including Gareth Evans, Hina Jilani, Leymah Gbowee, Shirin Ebadi and Vartan Gregorian, attended and participated in the Aurora Prize Award Ceremony.
The Aurora Prize will be awarded annually on April 24 in Yerevan, Armenia.
Further information is available at www.auroraprize.com.
SOURCE Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity