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Baird Honours Human Rights Defenders 2012 John Diefenbaker Award Ceremony | Cérémonie de remise du prix John Diefenbaker 2012 March 14, 2012 -

Human RightsForeign Affairs Minister John Baird today presented this year’s John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award to the late Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s former Federal Minister for Minorities, and Susana Trimarco, Argentinian activist and founder of the Fundación María de los Ángeles. “With this award, Canada honours the memory of Shahbaz Bhatti, whose determined efforts in the struggle for equality, justice and freedom cost him his life,” said Baird. “Braving multiple threats to his safety, Mr. Bhatti worked tirelessly to advance the rights of Pakistan’s religious minorities.” Mr. Peter Bhatti accepted the award on behalf of his late brother. “Canada also hails the courage of Susana Trimarco, who helped to shed light on the world of human trafficking and forced prostitution while searching for her missing daughter,” Baird said. “The foundation she created, Fundación María de los Ángeles, has helped raise awareness of this issue. Through Ms. Trimarco’s unyielding determination, she has helped hundreds of victims escape inhumane conditions.” Canada is among those nations leading the world in combatting human trafficking. “Canada stands with the defenders of human rights for all—people who courageously seek to promote and protect fundamental freedoms around the world. For more information, see Address by Minister Baird at Second Annual John Diefenbaker Defender of Human Rights and Freedom Award Ceremony. 

Exclusive footage of Shahbaz Bhatti\'s interview

Sara Sumbal needs your help

Sara’s Story

My name is Sara Sumbal. My family and I are asylum seekers in Bangkok, Thailand. We fled our home in Karachi, Pakistan, in 2013 when we became victims of persecution after my father, a Christian evangelist, was labeled a blasphemer under the Blasphemy Law for evangelising a Muslim man. My father was initially threatened by two Muslim clerics to stop evangelising or they would kill him and his family. They then ordered him to convert to Islam and all would be well. When he refused, they and the male members of the Muslim man’s family beat him unconscious and left him for dead on a garbage heap. 

          Sara with her family prior to their detention

After my father’s recovery, the extremists threatened him again with death because he continued holding prayer meetings. Because we were traumatised and terrified, our family fled form Karachi to a friend’s home in the city of Bahawalpur.

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Backgrounder - Diefenbaker Award and Recipients Shahbaz Bhatti

Shahbaz Bhatti was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan in 2008 and named Federal Minister for Minorities a portfolio he accepted because of the opportunity it offered to defend the oppressed and marginalized of Pakistan.

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