CCS Board Member Jack Minker and Dr. Binayak Sen (in absentia) received the Heinz R. Pagels Award on September 22, 2011 from the New York Academy of Science. Dr. Kamiar Alaei from Iran (pictured with Dr. Minker) attended.
Dr. Minker has been Vice-Chairman of the Committee of Concerned Scientists since 1973, and served as Vice-Chairman of the Committee on Scientific Freedom and Human Rights (CSFHR) of the Association for Computing Machinery from 1980 to 1989, devoting himself to assisting and publicizing fellow computer scientists from around the world whose human rights had been violated.
Dr. Sen has devoted himself to the medical needs of poor people in his province of Chhattisgarh. His advocacy for the rights of the poor and of tribal minorities led the local government to prosecute him for sedition. In 2010, a court in Raipur sentenced him to life in prison. Dr. Sen’s lawyers have appealed his guilty verdict and he is currently on bail in India, after the Supreme Court in New Delhi questioned the basis for his conviction (see our story). Dr. Mary Ganguli, a friend and colleague from the University of Pittsburgh, accepted the award on his behalf.
A surprise guest, the 2009 Heinz R. Pagels Award co-recipient, Dr. Kamiar Alaei, who was imprisoned at the time of his award, also addressed the Academy. Both Dr. Kamiar and his brother Arash were imprisoned in Iran after winning international recognition for their work on HIV/AIDS (see our story). Dr. Alaei, who is now pursuing his postgraduate work at Albany State Medical School, thanked the international human rights community for its advocacy on behalf of both brothers.
2011 Heinz R. Pagels Human Rights of Scientists Award, New York Academy of Sciences website
Doctors Kamiar and Arash Alaei on CNN’s “Sanjay Gupta, MD”, Physicians for Human Rights website