Three nominees 2014

B'Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights (Israel), Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta) and Anar Mammadli (Azerbaijan) are the three candidates shortlisted, in alphabetical order, in Prague today for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2014.

The selection panel, comprising six independent experts and chaired by Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), drew up its shortlist from 56 candidatures who fulfilled the criteria for the Prize.

B'Tselem is the leading Israeli organisation with Israeli and Palestinian members promoting human rights in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It has endeavoured to document and educate the public and policymakers about all human rights violations, irrespective of who has committed them. B'Tselem sends hundreds of cases to the military and civil authorities demanding criminal investigations, monitoring all stages of the investigation and submitting legal appeals where possible. Each year it takes testimonies from victims and eye-witnesses of human rights violations. Recently it has pioneered an innovative video strategy, distributing video cameras in high conflict areas and training volunteers to use these to document incidents of violence.

The Jesuit Refugee Service Malta is the Maltese branch of the global Jesuit Refugee Service, a non governmental organisation working to protect the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, through legal advice, psychosocial support and humanitarian assistance and through strategic litigation and advocacy. Much of its work is focused on detention centres, where staff and volunteers identify individual protection needs of detainees, provides them with information about asylum and immigration procedures, assess social, psychosocial and medical needs, and obtain the release of children, pregnant women and vulnerable persons.

Anar Mammadli is a prominent Azerbaijani human rights defender who has made an extensive contribution towards defending the right to free elections. He is the founder and chairperson of an influential and experienced organisation in Azerbaijan dedicated to observing elections. Since 2001, his Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS) has been carrying out independent election monitoring in Azerbaijan. Anar Mammadli contributed to programmes and events on monitoring of elections, voter participation and voter education, as well as design of materials and reports during 13 elections in Azerbaijan. He was arrested in December 2013 accused of "abuse of power" and other matters, and sentenced to 5,5 years in prison in May 2014.

Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter

„I am a child of the age of conceptual, rather than mystical, thought and therefore my god as well – if I am compelled to speak of him (which I do very unwillingly) – must appear as something terribly abstract, vague and unattractive. But it appears so only to someone I try to tell about him – the experience itself is quite vivid, intimate and particular, perhaps (…) more lively than for someone whose “normal” God is provided with all the appropriate attributes (which oddly enough can alienate more often than drawing one closer). And something else that is typical of my god: he is a master of waiting, and in doing so he frequently unnerves me. It is as though he set up various possibilities around me and then waited silently to see what I would do. (…) His Last Judgment is taking place now, continuously, always – and yet it is always the last: nothing that has happened can ever un-happen, everything remains in the “memory of Being” – and I too remain there – condemned to be with myself till the end of time – just as I am and just as I make myself.“

Václav Havel:
Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter, August 7, 1980

What Price Human Rights?