Peace Award winners are activists from Israel, Nicaragua and Belarus
They campaign for transparency and democracy in Belarus, human rights in Nicaragua or a peace treaty between Israelis and Palestinians: The 9th International Bremen Peace Award held by the schwelle Foundation focuses on the commitment shown by women.
Olga Karatch from Belarus receives the award for the Grassroots Peace Worker. The political scientist is regarded as the head and the driving force behind the human and civil rights network “Nash Dom”, which she founded at the end of 2005 at the age of 26 and to which currently 20 group belong nationally. Her aim is to make shortcomings in communal and national politics visible and to organise public campaigns to make politicians accountable. Such public engagement is not well received in Belarus, particularly when directed against the government. Activists are threatened, mistreated and arrested. "This award is not only for me, but also for the invisible women and men in Belarus who for years have risked their lives and freedom every day and every minute", says Olga Karatch. "Only very few people actually know about the terrible things happening in Belarus at the moment. It is the voices of women and human rights activists that are particularly inaudible. They are forced to fight for their rights and to rely on themselves."
The award for the Peace Ambassador in Public Life goes to Vilma Nuñez de Escorcia. The 80-year old has been fighting since the 1970s for human rights in Nicaragua. Amongst other things, she worked as a lawyer and represented political prisoners in court, without payment. She also headed the National Commission for Human Rights. In 1990, she founded the non-government and non-partisan Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights (CENIDH). The key concept behind the work carried out by CENIDH is founded on the principle of the indivisibility of human rights: political and civic rights are equally as important as economic, social and cultural rights. "Receiving the Bremen Peace Award gives me the courage to carry on”, says Vilma Nunez de Escorcia. “The prize gives us the feeling that we are not alone, for it embodies the irreplaceable value of solidarity expressed by the city and people of Bremen which touches us deeply."
The Donars' Award for Encouraging Initiatives is awarded to Women Wage Peace from Israel. The independent grassroots movement began in the summer of 2014 and does not only campaign for a peace treaty between Israelis and Palestinians acceptable to both sides. It also wants to be included in the decision-making process. With approximately 40,000 members and more than 100 local groups, Women Wage Peace is regarded as the largest grass-roots movements in Israel. Amongst other activities, the women organise peace marches, in which tens of thousands of people participate, demonstrate peacefully in front of the Israeli parliament and create spaces for meeting and encounter for people from Israel and Palestine. "Our movement is made up of normal women from different backgrounds who are in despair at waiting passively for the government and the political parties to solve the Israeli-Palestine conflict. For us, the Bremen Peace Award means that our efforts are seen, honoured and supported by the international community", the initiative states.
The award winners will be honoured during a public ceremony at the Bremen Town Hall on November 15, 2019. You are cordially invited.