17th edition of the Polish Prize Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2002-2003)
On December 10, the online gala of the Polish Sergio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2002-2003). The gala was followed by a panel discussion organized in cooperation with the New Diplomacy Foundation. At the session of the Panel of Judges of the Prize the Laureates of the Award were selected.
The winners received a statuette designed by Andrzej Renes, a commemorative diploma and a financial award funded by the Sponsor – Grupa ZUE SA.
The works of the Chapter were attended by representatives of: the President of the Republic of Poland, the Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden in Poland, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, the Ombudsman, the President of the City of Krakow, the United States Consul General in Krakow, ZNAK Publishing House , Founders and Initiators of the Award and Chairman of the Board and Director of the Villa Decius Association.
By the decision of the Chapter, the Polish Sérgio Vieira de Mello in 2020 will receive:
– in the “Person” category:
Hussein Alqaidi is a Kurdish Yazidi. He was born in 1970 in Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan. He graduated in Kurdish language and literature at the Salahaddin University in Erbil. From his student days, he was actively involved in the activities of non-governmental and charitable organizations. He worked, among others in the French organization Pharmaciens sans Frontiéres and in Iraqi Caritas. Hussein Alqaidi with the support of the Kurdistan Regional Government in 2014, after the occupation of Yezidi lands by ISIS, organized activities aimed at finding the missing, freeing them and helping them return to normal life and overcome the trauma. In August 2014, he became the head of the Office of Rescuing Kidnapped Yazidis and continues to run it today. At the same time, Hussein Alqaidi is also active in the local Kurdish organization “Dimdim Humanitarian Relief Foundation”. It deals with the documentation of the lives saved at the hands of ISIS, supports them financially and helps them return to normal life. Hussein Alqaidi travels around the world to seek support for Yazidis, testify to what happened in Szingal in 2014, convince the international community to recognize the crime as genocide and to bring the perpetrators to justice. Hussein Alqaidi and the Kidnapped Yazidi Rescue Bureau also work with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Aid Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). The office also cooperates with other Yazidi international organizations. Hussein Alqaidi collaborates with the ISIS Crime Investigation Team established in 2017 by the United Nations Security Council, as well as with Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict).
– in the “Non-governmental organization” category:
The Center for the Defense of Human Rights “Viasna” is a nationwide non-governmental human rights organization founded in Belarus in 1996 on the wave of the first protests against the Lukashenka regime, with its seat in Minsk and branches in most Belarusian cities. In 2003, Spring was illegally outlawed for its role as an observer of the 2001 presidential election. It continues despite harassment and is now the largest human rights association in Belarus.
The center’s priorities are legal support to victims of human rights violations, election observation, education and human rights awareness, and campaigns to abolish the death penalty and prison monitoring.
Spring was often affected by government-organized repressions for courageous actions aimed at bringing to light the violations of human rights by the Lukashenka regime. Many members of Spring were arrested and sentenced in show trials. In 2011, on the basis of prepared charges, its leader Ales Bialiatski was sentenced to three years in prison. In September 2020, Marfa Rabkowa, an activist at the head of Spring volunteers, was arrested – similar cases were counted in hundreds. In October 2020, Andrej Chapiuk, one of Spring’s volunteers, was charged with criminal charges. Even at high risk levels, hundreds of new volunteers have joined Spring.
After the rigged presidential elections in August 2020, Spring was one of the country’s most important human rights groups that focused on documenting the aftermath of what was identified as the worst human rights crisis in Belarus’ history. In just three months, Spring activists helped thousands of people; they will continue their activities for the rule of law and for fundamental rights and freedoms despite all obstacles.
– Honorary Award:
Marian Turski – born on June 26, 1926 in Druskienniki. He was a prisoner of the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. In March 1965, he participated in the Martin Luther King-organized march against racial segregation in the South of the USA from Selma to Montgomery. He is a historian, head of the historical section of the Polityka weekly, chairman of the Association of the Jewish Historical Institute, one of the oldest social organizations operating in Poland to commemorate the history and culture of Jews. He is active as the chairman of the Council of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and is also a member of the International Auschwitz Council. He was awarded the Commander’s Cross with the Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta, the Cross of Merit of the First Class of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany for his services to Polish-German relations. He is also a member of the Social Council operating at the Human Rights Defender. In 2015, he was awarded the Honorary Badge of the Ombudsman. In 2018, he received honorary citizenship of the Capital City of Warsaw. With its activities, it actively contributes to the preservation of knowledge about the crimes and victims of Nazism, which is a warning for future generations against committing crimes on the basis of race or religion, against excluding minorities and sensitizing them to acts and hate speech.
We invite you to listen to a conversation about this year’s edition of the Award with Jan Piekła, President of the Villa Decius Association, former Polish ambassador to Ukraine:
After the gala of presenting the Polish Sérgio Vieira de Mello Prize, an online panel discussion took place, “Good power: the role of international solidarity in situations of human rights violations”.
The winners of this year’s award and experts active in the field of human rights, diplomacy and democracy promotion assessed the potential and limitations of international solidarity and diplomatic tools in the event of police repression against peaceful demonstrators in Belarus. They also analyzed the possibilities of counteracting threats to human rights in Crimea, eastern Ukraine and Nagorno-Karabakh.
• Anna Sevortian, Executive Director of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum
• Ales Bialatski, President of the “Wiasna” Human Rights Center, Belarus
• Jan Piekło, Chairman of the Board of the Villa Decius Association / former Polish Ambassador to Ukraine
Moderator: Jeff Lovitt, President of New Diplomacy
Honorary patronage over the Polish Prize Sérgio Vieira de Mello, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, included:
AMBASSADOR OF THE FEDERATIVE REPUBLIC OF BRAZIL IN POLAND
AMBASSADOR OF THE KINGDOM OF SWEDEN IN POLAND
UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES