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Sourani Leaves Gaza for the Alternative Nobel Prize Ceremony

28 November 2013

Sourani Leaves Gaza Heading to Sweden to Participate in the Alternative Nobel Prize Ceremony

Lawyer Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), left the Gaza Strip on 27 November 2013 to Egypt, on his way to Sweden to participate in the Alternative Nobel Prize Ceremony.

On 26 September 2013, the Swedish Right Livelihood Award Foundation granted Sourani its annual Award that is known as "Alternative Nobel Prize" for his unwavering dedication to the rule of law and human rights.

It is scheduled that the Award will be presented at a ceremony in the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm on 02 December 2013.

Right Livelihood Awards are presented annually in the fields of human rights, sustainable development, health, education, peace and the protection of environment.

In 1980, the journalist and professional philatelist Jakob von Uexkull felt that the Nobel Prize categories were too narrow in scope and too concentrated on the interests of the industrialized countries. He considered it to be necessary to recognize those working on confronting challenges in their communities directly. Uexkull sold his business to provide the original funding. Since then, individual donors provide funds to the awards that aim to honor and support those coming up with practical answers to the most pressing challenges in the world. Since 1985, the Award has been known as the Alternative Nobel Prize and is presented in an annual ceremony in the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm.

Unlike the Nobel Prize and other international awards given to political, scientific or economic figures in the world, the Alternative Nobel Prize is granted to persons working and struggling for a better future in their countries and the entire world.

Sourani is the first Palestinian and third Arab to be awarded this international award.

The 2013 Right Livelihood Awards go to Raji Sourani and other three recipients:

1. Paul Walker, from the USA, for working tirelessly to rid the world of chemical weapons;
2. Denis Mukwege, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, for his courageous work healing women survivors of war-time sexual violence; and
3. Hans R. Herren, from Switzerland, for his expertise and pioneering work in promoting a safe, secure and sustainable global food supply.

These four recipients were selected out of 94 candidates from 48 countries.

Lawyer Sourani has received many other awards in the field of defending human rights. In 1991, he received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award jointly with the Israeli lawyer Avigdor Feldman. In 1996, he received the 1996 French Republic Award on Human Rights, while in 2002, he received the Bruno Kreisky Human Prize for Outstanding Achievements in the Area of Human Rights. Furthermore, he received the International Service Human Rights Award in 2003. In 1988, he was an Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, which is a title given annually by Amnesty to a person who was arrested for peacefully expressing his/her beliefs and opinions.

Lawyer Sourani is one of the most prominent Palestinian human rights defenders. He faced many Israeli measures to push him to abandon his role as a serious defender of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. The Israeli forces issued an unprecedented military decision against him in 1986 to prevent him from practicing legal work for a full year. In addition, the Israeli authorities prevented him from traveling outside the Gaza Strip during the period 1977-1990 according to a military decision also.

Sourani contributed to the establishment of PCHR in 1995 following long years of experience in the field of defending human rights of Palestinian civilians, especially prisoners in the Israeli jails.

PCHR has become one of the active human rights organizations in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and it has been present on all international levels pertaining to issues of the Palestinian human rights. Moreover, PCHR has played a pioneering role in the field of monitoring and documenting human rights violations in oPt and periodically evaluating the human rights situation and its consequences. PCHR has received international recognition for its outstanding role in the field of research and advocacy relevant to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and for its direct intervention in human rights issues in oPt.

As a lawyer specialized in defending human rights, Sourani gained a wide recognition on the regional and international levels. He was the Vice President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) for 12 consecutive years. Now, he is the President of Board of Trustees of the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR), Member of Independent Electoral Commission of the International Human Rights Commission (ICHR), Expert Member of the International Council of the International Human Rights Law Group and member of the Executive Committee of the International Commission of Jurists. In addition, Sourani occupies many posts in local organizations; he is a member of the Advisory Council of Bir Zeit University Law Centre, a founding board member of the Arab Studies Society and a board member of the Palestinian Human Rights Information Centre.

Sourani dedicates his time to be a human rights defender in the Gaza Strip and to many advocacy activities outside the oPt by participating in different international activities. He also works on uncovering the reality of Israel through exposing the Israeli violations and crimes against the Palestinian civilians and their property.

PCHR is considered as the first human rights organization that resorted to the international judicial system in order to achieve judicial remedy to the Palestinian victims since the early 2002. Since then, Sourani and PCHR have continued their serious efforts to ensure the prosecution of Israeli war criminals and to hold them accountable for the crimes they perpetrated against the Palestinian civilians away from the culture of impunity.

ENDS

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