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South-African Archbishop Desmond Tutu awarded the prestigious Premi Internacional Catalunya

Desmond Tutu, the South-African Archbishop who fought the Apartheid regime and won the Nobel Peace Prize, has been awarded the 26th Premi Internacional Catalunya. This is the most prestigious prize given by the Catalan Government and follows the decision of an independent jury formed of high-profile professionals from Catalonia and abroad. The jury has chosen Tutu from 162 other names from 51 different countries for "his vigorous and constant fight for social justice and the improvement of living conditions of those oppressed". Last year, the Premi Internacional Catalunya was awarded to the former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland and to the young Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai for "their determination and courage in the defence of human rights". Other awardees have been Lula da Silva, Haruki Murakami, Jimmy Carter, Jacques Delors, Amartya Sen and Aung San Suu Kyi, among others.

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08 May 2014 09:33 PM

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ACN

Barcelona (ACN).- Desmond Tutu, the South-African Archbishop who fought the Apartheid regime, has been awarded the 26th Premi Internacional Catalunya. This is the most prestigious prize given by the Catalan Government and follows the decision of an independent jury formed of high-profile professionals from Catalonia and abroad. The jury has chosen Tutu from 162 other names from 51 different countries for his "vigorous and constant fight for social justice and the improvement of living conditions of oppressed people ". Tutu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his fight against the racist Apartheid regime, but he has also supported many other causes during the past three decades, such as the fight against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, homophobia and racism. Last year, the Premi Internacional Catalunya was awarded to the former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland and to the young Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai for "their determination and courage in the defence of human rights". Other awardees have been Lula da Silva, Haruki Murakami, Jimmy Carter, Karl Popper, Jacques Delors, Aung San Suu Kyi, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Amartya Sen and Mstislav Rostropovich, among others. Desmond Tutu's prize was announced on Thursday but the ceremony will be on the 3rd of June at 7 pm at the Generalitat Palace, the Barcelona building hosting the office of the Catalan President.


The Catalan Minister for the Presidency and Government Spokesperson, Francesc Homs, together with the Delegate President of the award's jury, Philosopher Xavier Rubert de Ventós, announced the name of the person receiving the 26th Catalunya International Prize on Thursday. Desmond Tutu, who has become South-Africa’s moral conscience but also a moral reference for Humankind, has been the person chosen from among 162 candidates from 51 different countries proposed by 187 institutions from 43 countries and the jury members. Institutions from throughout the world could file proposals from the 2nd of July to the 31st of December 2013, and the jury started to debate in January.

Fighting Apartheid and supporting other causes

Francesc Homs emphasised Tutu's "vigorous and constant fight for social justice and the improvement of living conditions of oppressed people, from an obvious integrity and exceptional capacities and courage". Xavier Rubert de Ventós, who has taught in many European and American universities and is one of the main names in contemporary philosophy in Catalonia, underlined that since the end of Apartheid, Tutu has been a human rights activist throughout the world. De Ventós highlighted how Tutu played a key role in putting an end to South-Africa’s segregationist regime, but he has also actively participated in campaigns against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, poverty, homophobia, racism and child soldiers. The Catalan Philospher stressed that Tutu "is a bishop, an activist, a clown – because he loves making jokes – and an Anglo-Saxon empiricist, who participates in discussions in the moment they take place". The South-African religious leader used to be Cape Town's Anglican Archbishop but now, aged 82, he is retired and his public appearances are rare.

Tutu, a model for the world and Catalonia

Homs highlighted that the Premi Internacional Catalunya has existed since 1989 and it recognises people who have contributed significantly to Humankind. It is a way "to identify Catalonia with the values that some specific people represent" and "to look for positive models" for our country. However, Homs highlighted that the Catalan Government "will never make [a partisan] use of an awardee for specific or short-term goals", as this has never been done in the past 25 years. The Catalan Minister stated that from the Government’s side they will be "trying to project the values, the commitment and the way of doing things that Tutu might inspire". "Tutu is a model and this allows Catalonia to tell the world that it identifies itself with his values", concluded Homs. In this vein, De Ventós recognised that, considering the current political situation between Catalonia and Spain, the jury debated whether not to grant Tutu the award in order to avoid any political link. However, in the end, they ruled out this idea because they thought it would have been totally unfair to Tutu's legacy and it would have been a "cowardly" attitude.

Some of the people receiving the Premi Internacional Catalunya

The former Prime Minister of Norway, Gro Harlem Brundtland, and the young Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai were awarded the Premi Internacional Catalunya last year. Brazil’s former President Lula da Silva, received the prize in 2012. Other awardees in the prize’s 26 year history include: Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, United States President Jimmy Carter, Catalan bishop Pere Casaldáliga, French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, US writer Harold Bloom, British writer Doris Lessing, European Commission President Jacques Delors, Indian economist Amartya Sen, French sociologist Edgar Morin, Russian musician Mstislav Rostropovich and British philosopher Karl Popper. The prize has been given to two people on some occasions, such as in 2008 to Myanmar’s Opposition Leader Aung San Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s doctor and activist Cynthia Maung; in 2004 to Palestinian philosopher Sari Nusseibeh and Israeli writer Amos Oz; and in 1995 to the Czech Republic’s President Václav Havel and Germany’s President Richard von Weizsäcker.

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  • Desmond Tutu in Andorra in 2008 (by ACN)

  • Desmond Tutu in Andorra in 2008 (by ACN)