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Amira Osman Hamed, Sudan Women Activist, Wins Human Rights Prize

She was among the defenders from Afghanistan, Belarus, Zimbabwe, and Mexico who were awarded the Human Rights Defenders at Risk award in 2022.

Osman "never wavered in her purpose," according to the Dublin-based Front Line Defenders, "consistently advocating for democracy, human rights, and women's rights."

The activist and engineer, now in her forties, has spent two decades advocating for Sudanese women and was jailed earlier this year as part of a crackdown following the country's most recent coup.

She received international sympathy in 2013 after she was jailed and threatened with whipping for refusing to wear a hijab after being accused of wearing trousers in 2002.

During the administration of longstanding despot Omar al-Bashir, who gained power in an Islamist-backed coup, both crimes were prosecuted under moral laws. The morality rules, Osman told AFP at the time, had "transformed Sudanese women from victims to criminals" and were aimed at "the dignity of Sudanese people."

She founded "No to Women Oppression" in 2009 as a campaign to oppose the much-maligned Public Order Law. After Bashir's departure following a popular uprising, it was finally abolished in 2019.

Women were at the vanguard of the protests that deposed Bashir, and hopes for a more liberal Sudan were high as restrictions that had hampered their acts and public lives were lifted.

Many people are concerned about the hard-won liberties that have been acquired since his departure in October when army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan launched a coup that undermined a fragile transition to a civilian administration.

Following that, there has been a crackdown on civilian pro-democracy figures, with at least 96 people dead in rallies and hundreds arrested.

Osman's team told AFP in late January 2022 that "30 masked armed men" came into her Khartoum home in the middle of the night and "took her to an unknown place."

"Amira's arrest and pattern of violence against women's rights activists gravely endanger diminishing their political involvement in Sudan," the United Nations mission in Sudan tweeted.

She was released in early February and was spotted kneeling on crutches in a demonstration due to a previous back ailment.

Since 2005, the award has recognized human rights defenders on a yearly basis.

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