According to Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/02/02/us-nobel-wikileaks-idUSTRE7115QP20110202 the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks founded by Julian Assange was nominated for the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, a day after the official deadline for the nominations (February 1) had expired.
Assange, an Australian citizen, is currently in Britain awaiting extradition to Sweden for questioning in a sex scandal, which his supporters claim is a smear campaign to shut down WikiLeaks after the highly controversial release of thousands of US secret documents and diplomatic cables.
The Nobel Prize is an annual award established in 1895 by Swedish inventor and entrepreneur Alfred Bernhard Nobel for outstanding contributions to the fields of chemistry, physics, medicine, literature, economics and peace.
In Nobel's will, it stated that the awards were to be given to whomever
"shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."
The prestigious Nobel Prizes are awarded at a yearly international ceremony at the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden.
WikiLeaks was nominated by Snorre Valen, a Norwegian parliamentarian, who said that the organization was
"one of the most important contributors to freedom of speech and transparency...By disclosing information about corruption, human rights abuses and war crimes, WikiLeaks is a natural contender for the Nobel Peace Prize."
Previously the Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the likes of Nelson Mandela, the 14th Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, Mother Theresa, Shirin Ebadi, Liu Xiaobo, Anwar al-Sadat, Yasser Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin.
President Barack Obama received it in 2009.
No individual has won the prize twice, but the Red Cross has won the Peace Prize three times, so there is a precedent for an organization to receive the honor.
In my humble opinion, WikiLeaks doesn't quite make the grade.
But with tech-assisted pro-democracy movements unfolding like accordions since Iran's 2009 Green Movement, where social media unleashed a tech savvy population to challenge the reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, I think Twitter deserves a mention.
The role of the social networking giant Twitter--you can throw in Facebook and YouTube for good measure--has been tantamount of late in organizing and motivating large groups of people to protest dictatorships, unjust governments and unfair elections.
And I believe we are at the tip of the iceberg.
Even Nobel couldn't have conceived of such a thing, though doubtless he would agree that Twitter has played a significant part in the "holding and promotion of peace congresses."
Though Iran's Green Movement has failed so far to produce significant political change, I expect it has left Iranian politicians more aware of what damage a Tweet can do.
Meanwhile, in Tunisia, President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali is gone, ending more than two decades of autocratic rule. Yemen and Lebanon staged protests of their own last week, and Egypt, well, it certainly looks like the end of President Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule is in sight.
Whatever replaces these governments, the point is the people Tweeted and Tweeted--and they were heard.
So I propose, we nominate Twitter for the Nobel Peace Prize next time round.
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