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Institute for Policy Studies
The Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards honor two IPS colleagues who were murdered on September 21, 1976 by agents of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Orlando Letelier, the target of the car bomb attack, was a former Chilean ambassador and well-known critic of Pinochet. Ronni Karpen Moffitt was a 25-year-old IPS development assistant and committed peace activist. Their murder on Massachussets Avenue remains the only proven act of state-sponsored terrorism in our nation's capitol.
International Award: Maher Arar and the Center for Constitutional Rights
Maher Arar has taken bold actions to demand justice for the suffering he endured as a victim of the U.S. policy known as “extraordinary rendition.” A Canadian citizen, Arar was detained by U.S. officials in 2002, accused of terrorist links, and handed over to Syrian authorities renowned for torture. On September 18, 2006, a Canadian government commission confirmed that Arar had been brutally tortured during his nearly year-long imprisonment in Syria and declared him innocent of any terrorist ties. The report urges the Canadian government to formally protest the U.S. government’s handling of the case.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, in addition to their work on the Arar case, is being honored for their 40-year legal crusade against torture and other human rights abuses. Since 9/11, CCR has been at the forefront of work to defend victims of abuses committed in the name of the “War on Terrorism.” CCR lawyers faced scores of death threats when they were the first to bring cases on behalf of Guantanamo detainees. In 2004, they won a Supreme Court ruling that allows these men to challenge their detention in U.S. courts. CCR is also fighting for accountability for abuses committed in Abu Ghraib.