The 15th award ceremony FOR THe BRUNO KREISKY PRIZE FOR SERVICES TO HUMAN RIGHTS
Left to right.: Prof. Oliver Rathkolb (Kreisky-Stiftung), Prof. Manfred Nowak (Laudator), the winners Dr. Bogaletch Gebre and Cecily Corti, on behalf of Mazen Darwish (in Custody) his wife Yara Bader, Dr. Hans Peter Haselsteiner and S.E. Dr. Stéphane Gompertz (Laudator)
The 15th award ceremony of the Bruno Kreisky Prize fo human rights took place on June 10, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Ceremonial Hall of the Austrian National Library.
In 2013, the prizes were bestowed upon personalities from Ethiopia, Syria, and Austria. The award winners, Dr. Bogaletch Gebre, Mr. Mazen Darwish and Ms. Cecily Corti have fought for the rights of women and socially marginalized groups at the risk of their lives. The laudatory speeches were delivered by His Excellency Stéphane Gompertz, the French Ambassador in Austria (for Bogaletch Gebre), Univ.-Prof. Dr. Manfred Nowak (for Mazen Darwish) and Dr. Hans Peter Haselsteiner (for Cecily Corti).
Fifteenth Award Ceremony, June 10th, 2013, Ceremonial Hall of the Austrian National Library, Andrej Prozorov and Christian Bacanic.
The Syrian journalist and human rights activist Mazen Darwish founded the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) in 2004. Together with other activists, he reported on the infringements of the right to freedom of expression and the situation of political detainees in Syria. He fought for a reform of the Press Law and drew international attention to the disappearance of bloggers and journalists. From the very start of the protest movement in Syria, he was one of the major information sources for foreign media. His commitment to this cause led to repeated conflicts with the Syrian regime. Since 2007, he has been banned from travelling and arrested several times. In February 2012, the offices of the SCM were searched by the Syrian Secret Service and 16 staff members arrested, among them Mazen Darwish. He is still in prison today. Reporters without Frontiers elected him as journalist of the year 2012.
The Ethiopian human rights activist, Dr. Bogaletch Gebre started studying parasitology and public health under a Fulbright scholarship in the US in 1975. Already by then, she founded the organization Parent International Ethiopia – Development through Education. After she returned to Ethiopia in 1997, she set up, together with her sister Fikrete, the organization Kembatti Mentti Gezzimmatope (KMG). This organization devotes its efforts primarily to support women and marginalized population groups in the rural areas of Ethiopia. It fights, in particular, against female genital mutilation, child marriage and domestic violence. In addition, the organization develops interdisciplinary female health and education programs, implements projects aimed at combating HIV infection and AIDS, and launches ecological initiatives. 1.5 million people have so far benefited directly from KMG’s work, whose impressive success in its field of action is reflected by the reduction of female genital mutilation by 97% within a period of 10 years, and a decline of HIV infections.
Dr. Bogaletch Gebre has received multiple awards, amongst them the King Baudouin Foundation’s African Development Prize in 2013, the Jonathan Mann Award of the Global Health Council in 2007, and the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe in 2005.
Dr. Bogaletch Gebre
Ms. Cecily Corti, Chairwoman of the Vinzenz Community St. Stephan, was one of the co-founders of the VinziRast in the Viennese district of Meidling and has been its manager ever since. This institution offers overnight accommodation for 48 individuals who do not meet the criteria for being admitted in other institutions. In 2008, the VinziRast-Corti House was inaugurated. Thanks to the contribution of sponsors from the construction industry, it was possible to build 16 flats. In 2010, a shared housing facility was opened for homeless individuals suffering from alcoholism. Since 2011, work on the project VinziRast-MITTENDRIN has been ongoing. Ms. Cecily Corti has received several awards for her commitment: such as the Golden Medal for Service to the Republic of Austria and her appointment as Chevalier de l'Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur.
On his 65th birthday, Bruno Kreisky renounced his gifts. A circle of friends and co-workers of the then mayor of Vienna, Leopold Gratz, and the president of the Austrian Trade Union Federation, Anton Benya, developed the idea of a Foundation for Human Rights, which should bear Kreisky's name. The then financial Secretary of the Austrian Trade Union, Alfred Ströer, a former political prisoner of the Nazi regime, took over the duties of realising and managing the project.
By then, the Austrian perception of the problematic of international human rights was determined by the crimes of dictatorial regimes in Central and South America, the oppression in communist systems as well as of the beginning of the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe process, the Apartheid system in South Africa, but also the underdevelopment of the southern hemisphere, and the North-South conflict.
Bruno Kreisky had been imprisoned by both the Dollfuß regime in 1935 for 15 months and by the National Socialists in 1938 for another five months. He was then forced into exile in Sweden, from where he returned only in 1951. These experiences marked his political opinions, especially in relation to dictatorial regimes, human rights' abuses, and Asylum seekers problematics.
Kreisky in exile in Sweden
These experiences played an important role in the formulation of Kreisky's policies on the great issues of his time: the East-West conflict, Détente, and development policies - They also influenced his engagement toward dissidents and victims of torture in Eastern Europe and Latin America.
Criminal Identification Department photo 1935.
awareness of the responsibility I bear, and in its broadest
sense, I have come to the conclusion that it is necessary,
without hate and without design, to intervene in the internal
affairs of other states.“
13 September, 1971, Bruno Kreisky, conference of the international
council of Amnesty International.
To emphasize the independent and non-partisan character of the foundation, companies and institutions which were not allied to the Social Democratic camp in Austria also contributed to raise the capital for the Foundation. € 700,000 Euro (ATS 10 million) were collected in two tranches. The Foundation is still presently financed substantially from returns on this capital and from private contributions. Austrian tax regulations require that the foundation distributes 50% of prize money within Austria.
Kreisky with friends Olof Palme and Willy Brandt
garden of Armbrustergasse 15 in Vienna.
Even though Bruno Kreisky exercised no influence over the establishment of the Foundation, the composition of the first international and independent jury most definitely did reflect Kreisky´s international network of Kreisky as a statesman. International personalities such as the German journalist and resistance fighter Countess Marion Dönhoff, professor Herwig Büchele, SJ, as well as statesmen and personal friends of Kreisky such as Willy Brandt, Olof Palme, and Roland Dumas were also prominent jury members. It emphasized the Foundation's readiness to honour special merit in the area of protecting and supporting economic and social human rights.