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Rohingya humanitarian & activist Kyaw Hla Aung awarded 2018 Aurora Prize

Rohingya humanitarian & activist Kyaw Hla Aung awarded 2018 Aurora Prize

Rohingya humanitarian and activist Kyaw Hla Aung has been awarded this year’s $1.1 million Aurora Prize.

Kyaw Hla Aung is a lawyer and activist who, for decades, has worked to appeal for basic human rights for the Rohingya people. He also spent 12 years in prison as a result of his mission.  He was selected as the 2018 Aurora Prize Laureate from 750 nominations submitted from 115 countries, and has been recognised for his dedication to fighting for equality, education and human rights for the Rohingya people in Myanmar. He was presented the 2018 Aurora Prize, granted by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative at a ceremony in Armenia on 10 June.

Kyaw Hla Aung will receive a $100,000 grant as well as $1,000,000 to donate to organisations of his choice. He has chosen to donate this award to three international organisations that provide medical aid and assistance to refugees in Myanmar:

  • Médecins Sans Frontières (London)
  • Malaysian Medical Relief – MERCY Malaysia (Malaysia)
  • International Catholic Migration Commission – ICMC (Switzerland, USA)

Mary Robinson, Aurora Prize Selection Committee Member and Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said:

“Kyaw Hla Aung’s work personifies the spirit of the Aurora Prize. He demonstrates the exceptional impact an individual can have in fighting injustice that often seems unbeatable, and inspires us to consider how a brave step forward to support the world’s most vulnerable people can create impact beyond measure.” 

Kyaw Hla Aung said:

“There are severe restrictions on my people. They have lost their courage and faith in themselves, have become illiterate, and, as a result, are penniless. It has been heartbreaking to see my community suffer from such discrimination. The support of the Aurora Prize serves as important recognition for all of the Muslim victims of human rights violations, as the plight of the Rohingya people continues to become more visible to the international public.”

The Aurora Prize was established in 2015, by Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan and Ruben Vardanyan, the co-founders of 100 LIVES, which thanks those who helped saved Armenian lives in the Genocide that started in 1915, as well as others engaged in humanitarian work. 

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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