Sydney, May 29, 2004
NRI human rights activist Arundhati Roy has been awarded
the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize for her work in social campaigns and advocacy
of non-violence. This is the only international peace prize awarded
in Australia, was announced by the Sydney Peace Foundation 's chairman
Alan Cameron on Friday night.
The jury's citation read, "Arundhati Roy has been
recognised for her courage in campaigns for human rights and for her
advocacy of non-violence, as expressed in her demands for justice for
the poor, for the victims of communal violence, for the millions displaced
by the Narmada dam projects and for her opposition to nuclear weapons"
"Arundhati Roy is a distinguished world citizen.
She is an outstanding communicator who writes with great clarity and
grace. At a time of terrible disregard for human life, we need to hear
from citizens like Arundhati Roy," director of the Sydney Peace
Foundation Professor Stuart Rees said.
Each year the prize is awarded to an organisation or
individual who has made significant contributions to global peace, including
improvements in personal security and steps towards eradicating poverty
and other forms of structural violence.
Roy rose to prominence as the author of The God of Small
Things, which won the 1997 Booker Prize, but is just as well known today
for her clashes with authority. She described her relationship with
authority as "genetically adversarial".
Roy said, "Today, in a world convulsed by violence
and unbelievable brutality the lines between 'us' and 'the terrorists'
have been completely blurred. We don't have to choose between imperialism
and terrorism; we have to choose what form of resistance will rid us
Roy is often accused of anti-Americanism, but replies:
"My writing is not really about nations and histories, it's about
power. About the paranoia and ruthlessness of power."
She predicts: "Soviet-style communism failed, not
because it was intrinsically evil, but because it was flawed. It allowed
too few people to usurp too much power. Twenty-first century market
capitalism, American-style, will fail for the same reasons. Both are
edifices constructed by human intelligence, undone by human nature."
She has argued that Osama bin Laden is "America's
family secret", the monstrous offspring of its support for the
mujahideen after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. "He has been
sculpted from the spare rib of a world laid waste by America's foreign
The bombs raining down, she says, are "blowing
up whole warehouses of suppressed fury" and will inevitably spawn