The 15th award ceremony for the Bruno Kreisky Prize for human rights took place on June 10, 2013 at 7 p.m. in the Ceremonial Hall of the Austrian National Library.
In 2013, the prizes were bestowed upon personalities from Ethiopia, Syria, and Austria.
The award winners, Dr. Bogaletch Gebre, Mr. Mazen Darwish and Ms. Cecily Corti have fought for the rights of women and socially marginalized groups at the risk of their lives. The laudatory speeches were delivered by His Excellency Stéphane Gompertz, the French Ambassador in Austria (for Bogaletch Gebre), Univ.-Prof. Dr. Manfred Nowak (for Mazen Darwish) and Dr. Hans Peter Haselsteiner (for Cecily Corti).
The Syrian journalist and human rights activist Mazen Darwish founded the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) in 2004. Together with other activists, he reported on the infringements of the right to freedom of expression and the situation of political detainees in Syria. He fought for a reform of the Press Law and drew international attention to the disappearance of bloggers and journalists. From the very start of the protest movement in Syria, he was one of the major information sources for foreign media. His commitment to this cause led to repeated conflicts with the Syrian regime. Since 2007, he has been banned from travelling and arrested several times. In February 2012, the offices of the SCM were searched by the Syrian Secret Service and 16 staff members arrested, among them Mazen Darwish. He is still in prison today. Reporters without Frontiers elected him as journalist of the year 2012.
The Ethiopian human rights activist, Dr. Bogaletch Gebre started studying parasitology and public health under a Fulbright scholarship in the US in 1975. Already by then, she founded the organization Parent International Ethiopia – Development through Education. After she returned to Ethiopia in 1997, she set up, together with her sister Fikrete, the organization Kembatti Mentti Gezzimmatope (KMG). This organization devotes its efforts primarily to support women and marginalized population groups in the rural areas of Ethiopia. It fights, in particular, against female genital mutilation, child marriage and domestic violence. In addition, the organization develops interdisciplinary female health and education programs, implements projects aimed at combating HIV infection and AIDS, and launches ecological initiatives. 1.5 million people have so far benefited directly from KMG’s work, whose impressive success in its field of action is reflected by the reduction of female genital mutilation by 97% within a period of 10 years, and a decline of HIV infections. Dr. Bogaletch Gebre has received multiple awards, amongst them the King Baudouin Foundation’s African Development Prize in 2013, the Jonathan Mann Award of the Global Health Council in 2007, and the North-South Prize of the Council of Europe in 2005.
Ms. Cecily Corti, the Chairwoman of the Vinzenz Community St. Stephan, was one of the co-founders of the VinziRast in the Viennese district of Meidling and has been its manager ever since. This institution offers overnight accommodation for 48 individuals who do not meet the criteria for being admitted to other institutions. In 2008, the VinziRast-CortiHouse was inaugurated. Thanks to the contribution of sponsors from the construction industry, it was possible to build 16 flats. In 2010, a sheltered housing facility was opened for homeless individuals suffering from alcoholism. Since 2011, work on the project VinziRast-MITTENDRIN has been ongoing. Ms. Cecily Corti has received several awards for her commitment: amongst these are the Golden Medal for Service to the Republic of Austria and her appointment as Chevalier of the Ordre de la Le?gion dHonneur.