NRI Arundhati Roy, well-known human rights activist has been awarded
the 2004 Sydney Peace Prize

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 of both."

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 policy."

The bombs raining down, she says, are "blowing up whole warehouses of suppressed fury" and will inevitably spawn more terrorism.