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Meet Afghanistan’s 25 Year-Old ‘Person of the Year’

Anarkali Honaryar
Afghanistan — Anarkali Honaryar has been named RFE/RL Afghan Service’s “Person of the Year.” She was named person of the year on 21Mar2009

(PRAGUE, Czech Republic) As Anarkali Honaryar celebrates her 25th birthday this week, she already wears many hats — physician, human rights activist, and member of Afghanistan’s Constitution Committee. Today, Honaryar can add another distinction to her impressive resume — Radio Free Afghanistan’s ‘Person of the Year.’

Honaryar is a member of Afghanistan’s minority Sikh community and works for the Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan. She is well-known for helping women who suffer from domestic abuse, forced marriages, and gender discrimination. Honaryar is also an advocate on behalf of Afghanistan’s small, embattled Hindu minority, which lives in squalid conditions and faces harassment and discrimination.

“We are thrilled to recognize Anarkali for her tireless work in promoting democracy, human rights, and civil society in Afghanistan,” said Radio Free Afghanistan Director Akbar Ayazi. “Anarkali has been taking part in Afghanistan’s reconstruction since she was a teenager — this recognition is well-deserved.”

At age 12, Honaryar graduated from high school — six years earlier than her peers — and became interested in civil rights while studying medicine. Upon learning that she was Radio Free Afghanistan’s ‘Person of the Year,’ Honaryar said she was “honored to win this award by the most popular radio station in Afghanistan.”

“I dedicate this honor to all those young people who fight for human rights, equality, justice, and civil society,” she said. “Everyone in Afghanistan — including women and minorities — deserve the same legal protections and educational opportunities for a better life.”

Radio Free Afghanistan’s ‘Person of the Year’ is an annual award given to an outstanding individual whose contributions to democracy and civil society have made a significant impact in Afghanistan’s reconstruction. The winner is chosen by a panel consisting of more than 30 Afghan journalists, civil society activists and human rights advocates. Last year’s ‘Person of the Year’ was Gul Agha Sherzai, governor of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province.

About RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan
Radio Free Afghanistan is the most popular radio station in Afghanistan, broadcasting uncensored news and information in Dari and Pashto for 12 hours each day. It is funded by the U.S. Congress and was launched in 2001 as part of an effort to build a peaceful and democratic Afghanistan following the rule of the Taliban.