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.

Letter to Gustáv Husák – samizdat essay

„The overall question, then, is this: What profound intellectual and moral impotence will the nation suffer tomorrow, following the castration of its culture today? I fear that the baneful effects on society will outlast by many years the particular political interests that gave rise to them. So much more guilty, in the eyes of history, are those who have sacrificed the country’s spiritual future for the sake of their present power interests.“

Václav Havel:
Letter to Gustáv Husák – samizdat essay, April 8, 1975

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