In a world full of self-obsessed gluttons, there are a few brave and noble souls who put their fellow humans above their own interests.
Here are some of those brave souls, who fought hard and sacrificed so much so that others may lead a better life.
Two have made the ultimate sacrifice while a third continues to battle the vicious military junta:
* Stanislav Markelov, 34 – Russian human rights lawyer, who was murdered on January 19, 2009.
Read this excerpt from the Wall Street Journal:
Just minutes before his murder, Stanislav Markelov was at his most defiant. Protesting the release of a war criminal he had helped convict, he declared: “The person who decided to free him … should be held criminally responsible.”
As one of Russia’s top human-rights lawyers — a rare and endangered species — Mr. Markelov had many enemies, from politicians to Nazi sympathizers. In January, someone took revenge. Mr. Markelov was walking along a busy Moscow sidewalk after his speech when a man shot him twice in the head. As the snow turned blood red, the gunman slipped away.
* Aung San Suu Kyi, 63 – Burmese leader and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, who has been in prison (house arrest) for over a decade.
* Lasantha Wickrematunge, 51 – Fearless Sri Lankan journalist murdered on January 8, 2009.
Read this excerpt from an editorial written by Wickrematunge and published posthumously in the Sunday Leader:
People often ask me why I take such risks and tell me it is a matter of time before I am bumped off. Of course I know that: it is inevitable. But if we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted. An example that has inspired me throughout my career in journalism has been that of the German theologian, Martin Niemâ€ller. In his youth he was an anti-Semite and an admirer ofÂ Hitler. As Nazism took hold in Germany, however, he saw Nazism for what it was: it was not just the Jews Hitler sought to extirpate, it was just about anyone with an alternate point of view. Niemâ€ller spoke out, and for his trouble was incarcerated in the Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1937 to 1945, and very nearly executed. While incarcerated, Niemâ€ller wrote a poem that, from the first time I read it in my teenage years, stuck hauntingly in my mind:
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.