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Interesting Facts About Potential Nobel Peace Prize Winners

The Norwegian Nobel Committee made an announcement last week that this year’s nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize include 241 valid candidates. This list of individuals and organizations is 4 more than last year’s 237 and is the highest number of nominations ever received in the organization’s history!

Before they whittle down the nominees to the select few and award the coveted prize in October, let’s take a look at some of the potentials. There are some rather controversial figures included this year!


Easily the most controversial person on the list, Julian Assange is the editor in chief of whistleblower website Wikileaks [working link at the time of this post]. His site is most well known for disclosing United States government and other high-profile organization secrets. Assange is currently most well known for the rape and assault charges and extradition to Sweden he faces.

Wikileaks has most likely been nominated for their attempts at getting the truth to the people of the world. Though many are naturally upset at the type of info they release, some see the site owners as heroes for facing incredible odds at disclosing the truth.

Language fact: Most of the information Wikileaks collects is through hacking websites and databases. When Assange first started this at age 16, he used the name Mendax. This was from a quote by Roman poet Horace, “splendide mendax” which means “nobly untruthful.”

Sima Samar

Dr. Sima Samar is the Chairperson of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. In 2005, she also became the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Sudan. After a series of events in the mid 1980s including her husband being arrested by the communist regime in Afghanistan, she fled to Pakistan and began work as a doctor to refugees.

Seeing the dire situation the health care facilities were for refugee women, she began work to improve it. The Shuhada Organization was founded which provides health care, training of medical staff, and education. It currently has many centers throughout Afghanistan.

Language fact: Most recently, Dr. Samar was branded as the “Afghani Salman Rushdie” by religious conservatives. She publicly refuses to accept the wearing of burqa and the practice of purdah (seclusion from the public) as it leads to diseases from lack of sunlight. She also claims women in the region suffer from osteomalacia, softening of the bones, due to a poor diet. This led to the religious outcry against her.

Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas

This isn’t the first time Oswaldo has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. In fact, he’s been nominated several times, including 2005 when former Czech President Václav Havel nominated him and two of his fellow Cuban dissidents. Whether this year is his year to take the prize remains to be seen.

Oswaldo is a political activist in Cuba who founded the Christian Liberation Movement in 1988. The organization is a non-denominational political organization dedicated to furthering civic and human rights in Cuba. In 1998, Oswaldo and other members of the CLM founded the Valera Project.

In Cuba, if you have at least 10,000 signatures from registered Cuban citizens on a referendum, the government must consider it. Oswaldo’s referendum would have brought citizens freedom – of the press, of speech, of elections, etc. He gained 11,000 signatures. Unfortunately, the Cuban government refused to acknowledge it.

Language fact: Oswaldo was born in the “El Cerro” neighborhood of Havana, Cuba. El Cerro means The Hill. It was founded in 1803 and the first wooden church was built in 1807, building up the village. It would soon be known as Parish Hill then later simply The Hill.