Awarding of the 2008 Carl von Ossietzky Medal to Anarchists Against the Wall and Bil'in Popular Committee


International League for Human Rights

In the spirit of Carl von Ossietzky

The Executive Board, Berlin, October 13 2008

Press Release

Awarding of the 2008 Carl von Ossietzky Medal

The awards ceremony for this year’s Carl von Ossietzky Medal will be held on December 7, 2008 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the “Haus der Kulturen der Welt” (the House of World Cultures), Berlin.

(The press conference will take place on December 6, 2008 at 10:00 a.m. in the House of World Cultures.)

The Board of Trustees of the International League for Human Rights honors two groups for their courageous dedication to human rights:

Israeli journalist and peace activist Uri Avnery will speak as guest of honor at the awards ceremony. He will also speak at the press conference.

Sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations’ General Assembly (on December 10, 1948), the Carl von Ossietzky Medal for outstanding service in the realization of basic and human rights has special significance.

May 4, 2008 was the 70th anniversary of the death of Nobel Peace Prizewinner and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who, because of his staunch resistance to militarism, war and racism, was taken by force to the Sonnenburg concentration camp (located near the present-day Polish city of Slonsk), where he was cruelly tortured. With this in mind, the International League for Human Rights’ Board of Trustees salutes two organizations that - with the courage of their convictions, in keeping with Carl von Ossietzky’s spirit - struggle jointly for a common cause.

Anarchists Against the Wall and the Bil’in Popular Committee exemplify the nonviolent resistance to the Israeli-built "Separation Wall" on Palestinian land, as well as steadfastness in the diverse grass-root campaigns against the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

These groups incarnate a forward-looking culture free of exclusion and destruction, demonstrating thereby the possibility of living together in peace and freedom.

They also consistently represent their cause on the international stage: The Bil’in village, for example, sued two Canadian real estate companies in Quebec’s Superior Court for their part in constructing the Israeli settlement of Modi’in Illit- mostly on Bil’in’s land.

The two groups were founded by young activists around the same time:

Anarchists Against the Wall was formed in 2003 to protest Israel’s construction of the Wall.

The Bil’in Popular Committee was founded in December 2004 in reaction to Israel’s planned - and in the meantime fully realized - "barrier fence" that separates the village of Bil’in from 60% of its fields and olive groves.

The two groups owe their effectiveness to their politically independent, self-determined, transparent and nonviolent practices. Friday demonstrations at the barrier fence in Bil’in have been organized by the village’s popular committee every single week since 2005, leading to the formation of a broad international network of support and protection. The Israeli Border Police shoot tear gas, rubber- and steel-coated bullets, and - most recently - stink bombs at the demonstrators at close range, untroubled by causing the nonviolent protesters serious bodily injuries.

By honoring Anarchists Against the Wall and the Bil’in Popular Committee, the Board of Trustees of the International League for Human Rights highlights the organizations’ common conviction that helps them surmount great obstacles and dangers in their mutual ideal of a worthy - and shared - future. Their exemplary activities are – in the age of globalization - of great significance for the realization of the ideals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - well beyond Israel/Palestine.

With his comrade Rachel Avnery, Uri Avnery will take part in the awards ceremony where he will speak as the guest of honor. He will also speak at the press conference. In 2001 Uri Avnery received - along with Rachel and the Israeli peace group, Gush Shalom - the Stockholm Alternative Peace Prize. He was further honored by the City of Osnabrück with its Carl von Ossietzky Prize in 2002. Already in 1995, Uri Avnery had received Osnabrück’s Erich-Maria Remarque Prize, and in 1997, the Aachen Peace Prize.

Press Release in French, Press Release in Italian, Press Release in Arabic (PDF), Press Release in Hebrew (PDF)

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