It is with tremendous pride and admiration that Grassroots International shares the news that Raji Sourani, director of our partner the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), has won the 2013 Right Livelihood Award, often called the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize.
Mr. Sourani was granted the award for “unwavering dedication to the rule of law and human rights under exceptionally difficult circumstances.” The award honors and elevates the status of the careful, thorough, and utterly crucial work of Mr. Sourani and PCHR to document human rights abuses and offer legal support and advocacy to the victims of violations of International Law.
Raji Sourani has been practicing human rights law in Palestine for 35 years. In 1995 he contributed to the establishment of PCHR after many years defending human rights in Palestine. He and PCHR have been recognized throughout the international community for deep and impartial commitment to the principles of human rights, standing up to oppose abuses committed by the Israeli Government as well as those committed by the Palestinian Authority. Mr. Sourani has been imprisoned six times by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for his work.
In an atmosphere in which daily life is lived amid constant human rights violations, the work of Mr. Sourani and PCHR require incredible courage, resourcefulness, and dogged perseverance.
“Our demand is not extravagant or unreasonable,” says Sourani, “we simply want to be treated as equals. We ask that our rights be respected, that so-called universal human rights be extended to the Gaza Strip. We ask that the rule of law be respected, and that all those responsible for violations of international law be held to account.”
Raji Sourami will receive the Right Livelihood Award at the Swedish Parliament in December. He will share the prize of 2 million Swedish Crowns with the three other recipients of this year’s award: Paul Walker (USA) for his work to rid the world of chemical weapons, Denis Mukwege (Democratic Republic of Congo) for his work healing women survivors of war-time sexual violence, and Hans Herron (Switzerland) for promoting a safe, secure, and sustainable global food supply.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has been a Grassroots International partner since 1996. The PCHR documents human rights violations, provides legal aid to victims, advocates for greater economic and social rights, and, in particular, defends the rights of Gazan fishers who are routinely denied access to their fishing waters by the Israeli Defense Forces.