Mazen Darwish wins Bruno Kreisky Prize For Services To Human Rights 2013

The Syrian journalist and human rights activist Mazen Darwish, president and founder of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM) won “Bruno Kreisky Prize For Services To Human Rights” 2013,  along with Bogaletch Gebre, Ethiopian women’s-rights activist and the co-founder of KMG Ethiopia, and Cecily Corti, co-founder of the homeless facility VinziRast in Vienna.

 The Bruno Kreisky Award is a biennial award created in October 1976 on the occasion of the 65th birthday of Bruno Kreisky, an Austrian politician who served as Foreign Minister from 1959 to 1966 and as Chancellor from 1970 to 1983.

 Kreisky was arrested in January 1935 for more than one year and got arrested again in 1938, later he had to leave for the exile in Sweden where he worked in journalism and politics, in 1951 he came back to his country and was appointed for several political positions through which he build the modern Austria and spent more than 25 years in politics.

 Bruno Kreisky Foundation for Human Rights chooses the laureates from all around the world for their achievements in the field of human rights in their countries.

 In 1981 the prize went to Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid revolutionary and politician who served as President of South Africa.

 In 1984 the prize went to Lula da Silva, former president of Brazil and  one of the most popular politicians in the history of Brazil.

 In 2007 the prize went to Kofi Atta Annan, the Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations.

 In addition to several men, women and organization who played a major role in spreading the culture of human rights, and in the struggle for a better world.

 The Ceremony by the Human Rights Prize of the Bruno Kreisky Foundation was held in the State Hall of the Austrian National Library, June 10th 2013 in Vienna, Austria.

 Yara Badir, Darwish’s wife received the prize on his behalf, for Mr. Darwish is still detained by the Syrian authorities since the Air Force Intelligence stormed SCM office, Feb 16th 2012.

Mazen Darwish and four of his colleagues in SCM are accused of “promoting terrorist acts” before the Anti-terrorism Court in Damascus.

Darwish worked in SCM in Damascus  for several years in monitoring and documenting the violations against journalists and reporting on the restricted freedom of expression in Syria,” He campaigned for a reform of the press law and made ​​the international community aware of the disappearance of bloggers and journalists.” Bruno Kreisky Foundation said.

 Mr. Darwish was one of the main sources to reliable and impartial information about violations against journalists in Syria and the Arab world, in defiance of the suppressive Syrian authorities which never stopped targeting him, and imposed a travel ban on him in 2007 and arrested him several times, In February 2012, the office of SCM were stormed by Syrian Intelligence who arrested 16 people, including Mazen Darwish and two visitors with threat of being tried before a military field tribunal, later he and four of his colleagues were tried before the Anti-terrorism Court with charges of 3 to 15 years of imprisonment with hard labour.

 Mazen Darwish, while in detention, was chosen by Reporters Without Borders as the journalist of the year 2012.