Three nominees 2015

Veteran Russian human rights defender Ludmilla Alexeeva, the grassroots NGO Women for Afghan Women and the Balkan NGO Youth Initiative for Human Rights have been shortlisted for the 2015 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, it was announced in Prague on August 25, 2015.

  • Ludmilla Alexeeva, now aged 88, is a veteran human rights defender in her native Russia. In her youth, she gave up a promising academic career to join the Soviet dissident movement, going on to become a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Group. Forced to emigrate to the US in 1977, she returned to Russia in 1989 to continue her work, becoming President of the International Helsinki Foundation and later joining the Russian President’s Commission on Human Rights. She has worked relentlessly for the protection and promotion of the rule of law.
  • Women for Afghan Women is the largest shelter-providing NGO in Afghanistan, working in 11 provinces to protect the rights of disenfranchised Afghan women and girls. A grassroots organisation, it has helped young women who have suffered mutilation, torture, attempted murder and rape, among others. Its activities include running womens’ shelters, family guidance centres, children support centres and “halfway houses” for women leaving prison.
  • The Youth Initiative for Human Rights works to re-establish bonds between young people in the Balkan region, protecting victims of human rights abuses and promoting transitional justice. Projects managed by its different regional organisations include organising youth exchanges, helping activists in isolated communities, facilitating dialogue on human rights issues, and working to demystify the recent past and build mutual trust.

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?