08 October 2010: Victor Biak Lian, a Chin human rights activist, has been awarded St. Shepen Prize by a Norwegian rights group, Norwegian Mission to the East (NMTE) for "outstanding contribution to human rights, reconciliation and religious freedoms in Burma."
Victor Biak Lian, 45, is an ethnic Chin activist who has been working in Burma's pro-democracy movement for the last 22 years. As a student activist, he actively took part in the student-led nation-wide uprising in 1988, and subsequently fled to India following the brutal crackdown that left over 3000 dead on the streets in Burma.
"My involvement in this struggle began from the Street of Adihpadih Road of Rangoon University Main Campus in 1988. I later became a guerrilla fighter in the jungle and then an advocate for human rights. But I regard myself as an activist who still fights against the military dictatorship in Burma," Victor recalled his experience in a 2006 interview with Chinland Guardian.
A prolific activist, Victor serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO), a Canada-based advocacy group that works to promote the rights of one of Burma's most oppressed ethnic groups. His other involvements include, the Chin Forum, the National Reconciliation Program (NRP) and the Ethnic Nationalities Council (ENC). In these capacities, Victor has travelled around the world advocating for democracy and human rights in Burma with high-level officials from European, North American and Asaian governments, as well as, the United Nations. He has testified at the US Congressional hearings and at various UN human rights forums.
People who know him well and have closely worked with him say the recognition is well deserved.
"I am very proud of Victor Biak Lian for his commitment and hard works for democracy and human rights in Burma," says Salai Bawi Lian Mang, a close colleague of Victor and Executive Director of CHRO. "I believe that this [recognition] shows that our voice is now heard."
Victor is the fourth person to receive recognition from the Norwegian Mission to the East since the award was created by the organization in 2005. Previous winners of the award include Bishop Thomas of Egypt (2005), Doan Trung Tin (2007) and Tim A. Peters (2008). Victor will be confered the award at a ceremony on November 9 in Oslo, Norway.
On 9 November, Victor Biak Lian is also set to speak at Burma Human Rights Seminar, and to have different meetings with officials from the government and parliament, other NGOs and media groups. He will also be attending a Baptist Church service in Oslo, and meeting with Chin and Burmese people, which will be followed by a church concert where Victor is invited as a special guest.
The Norwegian Mission to the East is missionary human rights organization that specializes in religious freedom. It is working to provide support, care and practical help to people and churches around the world that persecuted or oppressed because of their Christian faith.