Right Livelihood award split three ways

This year's Right Livelihood Award is to be split four ways. Vietnam era whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg shares the award with the Indian campaigner for women's rights, Ruth Manorama, and the Colombian Festival Internacional de Poesia de Medellin. The winners get to share 2 million kronor in prize money.

The winner of the honorary award is Chico Whitaker Ferreira, a Roman Catholic activist who returned to his native Brazil in 1982 after 15 years in forced exile. From 1989 to 1996 he represented the Brazilian Workers’ Party in Sao Paolo. He was later a key figure in the formation of the World Social Forum in 2000, an event intended as a counterpoint to the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Daniel Ellsberg was a former State Department official, who leaked the so-called Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and several other newspapers in 1971. The papers showed that the USA had expanded its role in the Vietnam War despite president Lyndon Johnson’s claims to the contrary. The American government lost a great deal of credibility as a result of the leak and public support for the war began to wane.

When Richard Nixon was elected president, he endeavoured to do everything in his power to discredit Ellsberg. A White House Special Operations Unit went as far as to burgle his psychiatrist’s office in the hope of finding incriminating information. Ellsberg was held in custody after leaking the Pentagon Papers but was finally freed of all charges. He was back in the news as recently as November 2005, when he was arrested for trespassing while protesting the current president’s conduct of the Iraq War.

The Right Livelihood Award has been presented annualy in the Swedish Parliament since 1980, with the presentation generally taking place the day before the Nobel Prize ceremony. This year’s award ceremony will be held in the Swedish Parliament on December 8th.