The Bruno Kreisky Foundation for Human Rights mourns former UN Secretary General and Kreisky Prize recipient Kofi Annan and the Israeli Peace Activist and Kreisky Prize recipient Uri Averny

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana on April 8, 1938. He was the seventh UN general secretary and the first to come out of the organization’s ranks. He was in function from 1997 to 2006. Additionally he has received numerous prizes and awards for his human rights work, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 2001.

Kofi Annan started working for the UN World Health organization in 1962 in Geneva. At the UN-Headquarters in New York he worked in various areas in senior-level positions. Some of these sectors included: human resources management, budget and finance, and peacekeeping.

Kofi Annan was part of many important undertakings of the UN before becoming the UN Secretary General. For example, he initiated a project in which the profits of oil in Baghdad were put towards humanitarian causes. Once he became Secretary General Annan took on even more complicated political situations. He has worked with both Iraq, and Libya to try and get them to cooperate with the UN. Both countries were refusing to conform to Security Council resolutions. Annan was also a crucial actor when violence resumed in the Middle East in 2000. He promoted the Security Council’s standards, and tried to get Israelis and Palestinians to come to embrace their differences and achieve peace.

Annan was also committed to solving issues in Africa. He began the „Call to Action“ program in April 2001 to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic within Africa. With his support the program turned into the founding of the Global AIDS and Health Fund. Since its creation the Global AIDS and Health Fund has received approximately $1.5 billion in donations.

During his decade as UN Secretary General he had an unprecedented effect on international human rights. His initiation of the „Global Compact“ program is especially significant. This program encourages the international business community to uphold environmental regulations. He is also responsible for a report, which was the basis for the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. Since 2007 he is the president of the World Organisation Against Torture and founded the Kofi Annan Foundation for peace building and sustainable development. He is a member of the Global Elders founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007.

Uri Avnery

Uri Avnery was born on September 10, 1923 to a Jewish family in Beckum, Germany. When he was ten, his family moved to Israel to escape Nazi rule.

Avnery founded Gush Shalom in 1993, when he felt that other peace groups were unable to stand against the new government under Yitzhak Rabin. In English “Gush Shalom” translates as “The Peace Bloc,” and they have been working towards Israeli- Palestinian peace. They have no political affiliations as a group and their main objective is to change Israeli public opinion, so that they accept the right to exist of a Palestinian nation. Gush Shalom advocates re-instating the “Green line” that was used before 1967, with Jerusalem as the capital of both countries. Gush Shalom organized many protests for human rights issue in Israel, as well as promoted their ideas for peace through educational campaigns. Uri Avnery became a well-known author for his book; “In the Fields of the Philistines” which details his experience in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He went on to purchase “Haolam Hazeh,” an Israeli magazine, and remained the Editor-in-Chief for forty years. He turned it into a means of reporting on corruption and the government threatened to shut down his magazine several times. As a result, the magazine’s supporters formed a political party and they won a seat in the Israeli Knesset in 1965. Avnery personally served as a member for ten years.

He currently has a weekly online column, which is published by Gush Shalom, in which he discusses an important political issue. He was also awarded the alternative Nobel peace prize in 2001and the Erich Maria Remarque Peace prize in 1995.

Bruno Kreisky Prize for Human Rights goes to the Turkish author Asli Erdogan

The international jury of the Bruno Kreisky Prize for Human Rights unanimously awards the Bruno Kreisky Prize for Human Rights to the Turkish author Asli Erdogan for her outstanding services to the development and protection of international human rights. The Bruno Kreisky Prize for Human Rights is named after the late Chancellor of Austria Bruno Kreisky and is the oldest, most prestigious human rights award in Austria (

Asli Erdogan, who worked as a research physicist at CERN in Geneva, and was a guest as a "writer in exile" at the International House of Authors Graz from 2012 to 2013, has been very active in and unreservedly committed to the enforcement of human rights throughout her life.

The manifestations of suffering and injustice, which she consistently investigates in her writings, serve as a benchmark in the work of Ms. Erdogan, the committed human rights activist.

Ms. Erdogan is currently being prosecuted in her homeland of Turkey. She is being accused of four different crimes, including an indictment because of her column and her membership in a newspaper advisory board. She was arrested on accusations of disrupting the unity and integrity of the state and being a member of a terrorist organization. She was released on bail on December 29th, 2016, but has been banned from travelling abroad. Her next trial date is set for March 14th, 2017.

The Bruno Kreisky Human Rights Prize to the writer Asli Erdogan also serves a symbol against massive restrictions of human rights.


Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue, Armbrustergasse 15, 1190 Vienna
9th of June 2015, 7:30 pm

Welcome Speech:

Gertraud Auer Borea d‘Olmo
Secretary General of The Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue

Oliver Rathkolb
Executive Director of the Bruno Kreisky Foundation for Services to Human Rights

Ewald Nowotny
Chairman of the Board Bruno Kreisky Foundation for Services to Human Rights
The Bruno Kreisky Prize awarded to:
Vian Dakhil (Iraq)

Laudation: Violet al Raheb
University of Vienna

The Bruno Kreisky Prize awarded to:
Marijana Grandits (Austria)

Laudation: Manfred Nowak
Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights

The Bruno Kreisky Prize awarded to:
Nachbarinnen in Wien (Austria)

Laudation: Sandra Frauenberger
Executive City Councillor for Integration, Women‘s Issues, Consumer Protection and Personnel
Details and Invitation as PDF
2007 Kreisky award winner Gao Zhisheng released from jail

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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.

Mazen Darwish
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.


Bogaletch Gebre
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
Cecily Corti
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.

Bruno Kreisky in exile in Sweden
Bruno Kreisky

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.


„In 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.


Bruno Kreisky with friends Olof Palme and Willy Brandt in the
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.