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Jesuit Provincial receives human rights award

Leader of the Australian Jesuits Fr Mark Raper has had his "30 year commitment to protect refugees' human rights" recognised, having been named the recipient of this year's annual human rights award from the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID).

In announcing the award, ACFID President Gaye Hart said, "Through his work in the Jesuit Refugee Service, Fr Mark Raper has worked tirelessly to restore human dignity and defend the human rights of refugees and displaced persons."

ACFID - formerly the Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) - is the peak council for 80 international development organisations. The announcement was made at the annual meeting of the Council in Canberra on Friday. It recognises outstanding contributions by individuals in Australia towards the achievement of human rights internationally.

Fr Raper was appointed the first Director of the Jesuit Refugee Service's Asia Pacific program in 1982, working with refugees from across South and Southeast Asia before being appointed International Director of Jesuit Refugee Service. Under his leadership, Jesuit Refugee Services expanded to cover programs in over 50 countries, with new initiatives in Africa, Central America and the Balkans.

In 2001 Fr Raper was named a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia in recognition of his lifetime contribution to international humanitarian relief through the Jesuit Refugee Service.

In his acceptance speech, Fr Raper reflected on the importance of "taking the long view" on human rights, citing the example of Indonesia's surprise relinquishment of sovereignty over East Timor in 1999.

He said: "My former professor, friend and mentor, Herb Feith, also a recipient of this Human Rights Award, once pulled me aside in the late seventies. He counselled that Suharto's Indonesia was not monolithic, that we could never predict what would happen when the first chinks appeared in that military machine. Indeed, who could have predicted that Suharto's successor, the temporary President Habibie, would call for a ballot in East Timor 24 years later?"

Human rights award recognises 30 year commitment to protect refugees' human rights (Australian Council for International Development)
ACFID 2004 Human Rights Award: Response by Fr Mark Raper SJ AM on receiving the ACFID award.

Australian Council for International Development
Human rights award recognises 30 year commitment to protect refugees' human rights (Australian Council for International Development)">Mark Raper SJ: Rebuilding Rwanda: ten years on (Australian Financial Review 2/4/04)
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Mark Raper SJ: To Build Peace and Bring Hope, Australian Catholic University 2004 Lenten Lecture
Australian Jesuits

20 Sep 2004