At the 13th award ceremony at the Camineum of the Austrian National Library, the Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, as well as the NGO ZARA for its struggle against racism and xenophobia in Austria have been honoured. The awards for outstanding achievements in service to international human rights, which do not include prize money, have been bestowed upon Austrian UN High Commissioner and co-founder of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights Manfred Nowak and former Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan.
The laudatory speeches for the award recipients were given by Beate Winkler, Director of the European Union Agency for Funda- mental Rights and Heinz Patzelt, Secretary General of Amnesty International Austria.
Ghao Zhisheng has represented within his law office a great number of defendants in human rights cases before Chinese authorities. After suffering prolonged obstructions in his professional duties caused by the Police and Secret Service, Ghao Zhisheng was abducted for no stated reason in August 2006, before being officially
arrested one month later for being suspected of engaging in "subversive" activities. He was sentenced to three years in prison, but further on imprisonment was suspended for a five year period of probation. He was banned from making any public statements on his case or the political situation. The Bruno Kreisky Prize could not be awarded to him in person. Gao-Zhisheng was arrested by the police in february in 2009 and disappeared. In march in 2010 he suddenly resurfaced before redisappearing again one month later.
The award ceremony honouring the former Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan and the Serbian human rights activist Jovan Mirilo, took place on September 11th 2007 in the City Hall of Vienna. The President of the National Council of the Austrian parliament Barbara Prammer and Wolfgang Petritsch, Ambassador of Austria to the UN in Geneva at that time, held the Laudatio.
Kofi Annan received the Prize for his outstanding contribution to the continued development of the international protection of human rights and to the establishment of human rights within the UN system. Many of his initiatives, such as UN Global Compact and UN Millenium Development Goals, became milestones in the most recent chapter of international human rights and are just two examples and testimony to his commitment to human rights.
By drawing attention to the "Srebrenica video", which documents the 1995 Srebrenica massacre committed by Serbian paramilitaries, Jovan Mirilo has initiated a phase of intense internal discussions in Serbian society. At the same time Jovan Mirilo was forced to leave Serbia because of the violence perpetrated against him and his family and because of murder threats.