Amnesty International has awarded its top honour to Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, who has spent years shining light on his country’s restrictive political atmosphere, and to US folk singer Joan Baez, for her civil rights activism.
Ai said in an interview that the Ambassador of Conscience award was a reminder of his social responsibilities as an artist, especially as the Chinese government tightens its grip on free expression.
He noted that the repression was affecting “ordinary people around us concerned about basic issues” while answering a question about five women’s rights activists who remain in detention for planning anti-harassment protests.
Baez was cited for activism in the US dating back 50 years.
Previous award winners include Burma dissident Aung San Suu Kyi and Irish rock band U2.