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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 16:17 GMT
Mandela receives Amnesty honour
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela: "Revolutionary in the positive sense"
Nelson Mandela has been awarded human rights group Amnesty International's most prestigious award.

The former South African president and anti-apartheid campaigner was praised for his "invincible dedication to the freedom of his people".

He was given the award as Ambassador of Conscience 2006 by fellow Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer.

During a ceremony in Johannesburg, Mr Mandela said no-one could rest while injustice and inequality remained.

"Mandela epitomises the human being of conscience," Mrs Gordimer said of the 88-year-old statesman, jailed for almost three decades under South Africa's apartheid regime.

'Forgotten prisoners'

Mr Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and elected as the first black leader of the country in 1994.

Amnesty International campaigns for the rights of prisoners of conscience.

1918 - Born in the Eastern Cape
1956 - Charged with high treason, but charges dropped
1964 - Charged again, sentenced to life
1990 - Freed from prison
1993 - Wins Nobel Peace Prize
1994 - Elected first black president
1999 - Steps down as leader

Mrs Gordimer said he was a man who, through his leadership and dedication to justice and equality, had put morality back into government.

As he received the award, Mr Mandela said that only lifting people from poverty could restore their dignity.

"Like Amnesty International, I have struggled for justice and human rights for long years," Mr Mandela said as he received the award.

"It is my fervent wish as I come together with human rights activists that we shine hope for the forgotten prisoners of poverty."

The award ceremony came just a day after the death of former South African President PW Botha, who refused to release Mr Mandela from prison in the 1980s.

Last year's award was given to Irish rock band U2.

Other previous recipients include Ireland's first woman president and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, and the first president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel.

Heaney praises Mandela for award
20 Sep 06 |  Northern Ireland
Human rights honour given to U2
27 Feb 06 |  Entertainment
Landmarks in Mandela's life
16 Jun 99 |  Africa

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