Bhutto wins human rights prize
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The son of slain Pakistani politician Benazir Bhutto accepted a U.N. human rights prize on her behalf on Wednesday, saying she did everything possible to defend human rights.
Bhutto, who was killed almost a year ago, was among six individuals and one organisation honoured by the U.N. General Assembly on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Bhutto died in a suicide gun and bomb attack after addressing an election rally on December 27 last year.
Her widower, Asif Ali Zardari, is now president after Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party won an election in February.
Bhutto's son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said he was "overwhelmed with both sadness and joy."
"I was extremely happy that the U.N. honoured her with this award but obviously I would have been much happier had she been here herself to receive it," said the 20-year-old student who became joint party chairman after his mother's death.
At a news conference, he declined to speak about tensions between Pakistan and India over the Mumbai attacks, for which India blames Pakistan-based militants.
Asked about allegations of extrajudicial killings and jailings of human rights activists when Bhutto was prime minister in the 1980s and 1990s, he blamed "rogue elements."
"My mother did everything humanly possible to ensure both democracy and human rights in Pakistan. Her governments were undermined by rogue elements within the establishment at the time," he said. "It was not her who committed any of these crimes, and she did everything she could to stop anything of this sort happening."
He said Pakistan still faced many human rights challenges but conditions would improve as democracy grew stronger.
Also receiving the award posthumously was Dorothy Stang, a nun who defended the rights of poor and indigenous people in Brazil who was murdered in 2005.
The other winners were former U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark, Jamaican rights activist Carolyn Gomes, Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and New York-based group Human Rights Watch.
(Editing by Alan Elsner)
Source: Africa Reuters