Indian author and activist Harsh Mander, along with his campaign Karwan-e-Mohabbat, and the co-founders of Alt News Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha, were named by Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) in its yearly shortlist for the Nobel Peace Prize.
PRIO directors come out with their personal shortlists for the Nobel Peace Prize every year. Henrik Urdal, the current director who took up the position in 2017, presented his fifth list on Tuesday, 1 Feburary.
The laureate will be announced in October. However, Urdal has no association with the Nobel Institute or the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee also acknowledges that being nominated does not imply any honour or affiliation with the Nobel Peace Prize or its affiliated institutions.
'Harsh Mander, Karwan-e-Mohabbat and Alt News'
The official statement from Urdal said a "compelling rationale" behind being awarded a Nobel Peace Prize is "fighting religious extremism and promoting interreligious dialogue", and therefore a worthy recipient of this award would be Harsh Mander along with his campaign Karwan-e-Mohabbat ("Caravan of Love").
"Embodied by the figure of Mahatma Gandhi, India has a proud tradition of religious tolerance and pluralism. 75 years after India gained its independence, this tradition is under strain," Urdal's statement read.
"Under Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist administration, the situation for Muslims in India has become increasingly difficult, and the country has seen numerous incidents of religiously motivated violence," his statement added.
Responding to this violence is Mander, who is an important voice for "religious tolerance and dialogue" and his campaign Karwan-e-Mohabbat, which is a crucial rallying point for those who "oppose interreligious conflict and violence", he further said.
Karwan-e-Mohabbat is a campaign that was launched in 2017 to support and show solidarity with the victims of hate crimes. Mander is also the director of the Center for Equity Studies in New Delhi.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had raided Mander's home and office last year in September.
Urdal also named Mohammed Zubair and Pratik Sinha, the co-founders of Alt News, a fact-checking site, for their fight against religious extremism and intolerance in India.
Meanwhile, the other names included in the list are:
Belarus's opposition politician Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya played a leading role in the non-violent protest against President Alexander Lukashenko and other Belarussian authorities, calling for fair elections and asking for an end to violence against those demonstrating against the abuses of the current regime.
Lukashenko was elected for a sixth five-year term in office after the alleged rigged election results.
HRDAG & CANVAS
Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) and the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS) were also shortlisted.
"Based in San Francisco, HRDAG systematically documents and analyses data on human rights abuses," the statement said.
"Based in Belgrade and co-founded by Srđa Popović and Slobodan Đinović, CANVAS does invaluable work educating activists around the world in non-violent forms of protest and resistance," the statement added.
Ilham Tohti, Agnes Chow & Nathan Law
Scholar Ilham Tohti worked to spread knowledge about human rights abuses perpetrated against Uyghurs in China's Xinjiang region.
He was jailed for life in 2014 on charges of promoting separatism.
Agnes Chow Ting and Nathan Law Kwun-chung are prominent members of the former pro-democracy organization Demosistō and its forerunner Scholarism and leading figures in the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong.
Nataša Kandić & the Humanitarian Law Center
Human rights activist Nataša Kandić founded the Belgrade based Humanitarian Law Center in 1992. Kandić and the Humanitarian Law Center have documented human rights violations associated with the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.
Other Worthy Candidates Shortlisted
Urdal also named Rouba Mhaissen (Head of the Sawa for Development and Aid in Lebanon working for the human rights of refugees), Shaharzad Akbar (former chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission), Mariam al-Mahdi (former Foreign Minister of Sudan and democracy activist), and the Civil Disobedience Movement in Myanmar as other worthy candidates.
How Does the Nomination Process Work?
The Norwegian Nobel Committee decides upon the nominations based on the valid names it receives by the 31 January deadline.
Anyone can be nominated, but the right to vote is reserved for the members of national assemblies and governments, current and former members of the Committee, Peace Prize laureates, professors of specific disciplines, directors of peace research and foreign policy institutes, and members of international courts.
The committee's five members can also add nominations of their own but must do so before the first meeting after the deadline ends.
In the case of Urdal, he does not nominate as he plays an active role in commenting on the prize.