Imprisoned HDP Co-Chair Demirtaş Nominated for Václav Havel Human Rights Prize

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  • July 12, 2017
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The Group of the Unified European Left (UEL) at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has nominated imprisoned Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtaş for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2017.

On August 29, the first meeting of the selection panel will be held in Prague which will shortlist three candidates out of the candidatures received.

On October 8, the second meeting of the selection panel will be held in Strasbourg which will select the final Prizewinner from the shortlist and on the next day, Prize Award Ceremony will take place in Strasbourg in the Debating Chamber of the Parliamentary Assembly during its Autumn Session. The prize consists of a sum of €60,000, a trophy and a diploma.

About Václav Havel

Václav Havel (5 October 1936 – 18 December 2011) was a Czech writer and former dissident, who served as the 1st President of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. Prior to that he also served as the last president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until its dissolution in 1992. As a writer of Czech literature, he is known for his plays, essays, and memoirs.

His political activities brought him under the surveillance of the secret police and he spent multiple stints in prison, the longest being nearly four years, between 1979 and 1983.

Havel’s Civic Forum party played a major role in the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989. Havel was instrumental in dismantling the Warsaw Pact and expanding NATO membership eastward. Many of his stances and policies, such as his opposition to Slovak independence, condemnation of the Czechoslovak treatment of Sudeten Germans after World War II, and granting of general amnesty to all those imprisoned under communism, were very controversial domestically.

Havel’s political philosophy was one of anti-consumerism, humanitarianism, environmentalism, civil activism, and direct democracy. He supported the Czech Green Party from 2004 until his death. He received numerous accolades during his lifetime including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Gandhi Peace Prize, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the Four Freedoms Award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, and the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award.

Václav Havel Human Rights Prize

The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is awarded each year by the PACE in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation to reward outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond.

The Prize is awarded in memory of Václav Havel, playwright, opponent of totalitarianism, architect of the Velvet Revolution of 1989, President of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic and an enduring symbol of opposition to despotism. Nominations of any individual, non-governmental organisation or institution working to defend human rights are taken into consideration. The Prize consists of a sum of €60 000, a trophy and a diploma.

On 25 March 2013, the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize was launched at a ceremony in Prague with the signature of the Co-operation Agreement by the President of the Assembly, Jean-Claude Mignon, the Director of the Václav Havel Library, Marta Smolíková, and the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Charta 77 Foundation, František Janouch, in the presence of Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg.The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize replaces the Assembly Human Rights Prize, which was created in 2007 and awarded every two years, first in 2009 to “British Irish Human Rights Watch” and then, in 2011, to the Russian NGO “Committee against Torture”.

(AS/DG)