Chin Activist Received St. Stephen’s Prize In Norway
10 November 2010 (Chinland Guardian): Chin human rights and democracy activist, Victor Biak Lian, was yesterday awarded St. Stephen’s Prize 2010 by the Norwegian Mission to the East (NMTE) in recognition of his magnificent contributions to democracy, human rights and national reconciliation in Burma in a ceremony held at the Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo, Norway.
Upon receiving the award, Victor Biak Lian said in his speech: “I am very surprised. What came to my mind immediately was the fact that it is not my individual efforts that should be recognised but rather the efforts of all my colleagues and friends who are equally committed to the cause of the disenfranchised and suffering communities of Burma.”
“We will continue to press for justice and accountability for human rights violations, national reconciliation and genuine democracy. We have to remain hopeful. Change that is small and slow can quickly become big and widespread. I believe that one day this change will come and that I may return to my homeland, not as a Chin or an ethnic national but as a member of a unified, free, and democratic Burma,” Victor, a father of two, told the audience with his family members in attendance.
The 45-year-old ethnic Chin activist has been tirelessly involved in the struggle for democracy and human rights in Burma for more than 22 years since the student-led 8888 uprising against the military regime. As a young student and ethnic nationalist, Victor Biak Lian actively took part in demonstrations, ending up in jail and eventually fleeing to India following the junta’s ruthless crackdown on peaceful protestors across the country.
High Commissioner of OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) on National Minorities, Mr. Knut Vollebaek, who presented the award to the Chin recipient, said: “As much as I am honoured and pleased to have the opportunity to award this Prize to Victor Biak Lian today and to thank him, I am saddened that we still need these prizes to remind us and the world of human rights violations that continue to take place in many countries.”
“Burma is in desperate need of change. I believe that efforts like those undertaken by today’s Prize Winner, efforts to strengthen respect for religious freedom and human rights and efforts to help unite various ethnic minorities in Burma, can play a crucial role in bringing about the change needed,” added Mr. Vollebaek.
The ceremony, attended by more than 120 Chin and Norwegian participants was entertained with traditional songs and dances by Norway Chin Mission Church members in their national costumes and beautiful music by Helga Botn with Real Fake Band.
Victor Biak Lian is the fourth recipient of the award in line with his three predecessors, Bishop Thomas from Egypt (2005), Doan Trung Tin from Vietnam (2007), and Tim A. Peters from the USA (2008) who works among refugees from North Korea.
The award consists of an artwork by Peter Grøstad, a diploma of Peter Mohn, and a monetary donation.
In the afternoon, Victor was giving a presentation on ‘Ethnic Nationalities of Burma: What can they contribute?’ alongside other key speakers including Ed Brown of NMTE; Ola Breidal from Department of Foreign Affairs; and Khin Maung Win, Assistant Director of DVB (Democratic Voice of Burma).
Highlighting an in-depth historical and current situations of Burma including the recently held 2010 General Elections, Victor Biak Lian said the military regime is not planning to give up power, adding: “United vision, different roles, diverse action is needed.”
During his stay in Norway, Victor Biak Lian is set to have a series of meetings with Department of Foreign Affairs, Burma Committee, the Norwegian Baptist Union (NBU), and Burmese and Chin communities based in Norway. He is also programmed to visit and speak at Chin and Norwegian churches, and Christian seminar.
The Norwegian Mission to the East (NMTE), with its motto reading ‘Together for the persecuted’, is an Oslo-based Christian missions and human rights organisation, with a special focus on freedom of belief and religion. The NMTE is committed to providing support, care, and practical help for churches and individuals who are persecuted or oppressed because of their religious beliefs.
Van Biak Thang