Human Rights Award 2011
Slim Amamou, Tunesia and Khaled M. Said (1982-2010), Egypt
The Near / Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) suffers from marked deficits in democracy and development caused by a high degree of political conflict and authoritarian structures in most of the regimes of the region.
The Arab Human Development Report identifies the key deficits. In addition to having the lowest degree of freedom worldwide measured in terms of civil and political human rights, the region also has the lowest participation of women in politics, society, and the economy and its educational system is one of the worst. The populations in Maghreb and Mashriq countries suffer above all from social injustice, poverty, corruption and police despotism.
Some rulers have held the reins of power for decades. Their power relies on a close-knit patronage system and the power of the security forces. Despotic regimes in the MENA region infringe upon a multitude of rights codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and UN human rights covenants.
Since 2010 we have seen protests against dictatorship and arbitrary rule almost everywhere in the Arab world. The citizens are trying to force the establishment of political reforms by means of their protests, but they are also fighting for a life in dignity as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Award winners
The regimes in Tunisia and Egypt would not have changed without the efforts of all the people participating in the protests. Hundreds of thousands of people risked their health and lives when they took to the streets, some of them for the first time in their lives.
With its Human Rights Award 2011, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung wishes to honour two important players and symbolic figures as representatives of the protest movements and fights for freedom in Tunisia and Egypt.
The protest movements in Tunisia and Egypt owe their success to a great extent to the organisation and coordination possibilities of the Internet and new social media. Young and media-savvy people played an especially important role during the initial phase of the demonstrations. For several years internet activists and bloggers had been reporting online about the problems of the people, and the wheelings and dealings of the regime.
With commitment and bravery they provided an account of rampant corruption, oppressive poverty, lack of prospects for young people as well as violent suppression by security and police forces - often risking their health and their lives.
Slim Amamou, born in Tunis in 1977, is a computer scientist, blogger, and Internet activist. He is considered one of the chief fighters for free speech in Tunisia. During the final days of Ben Ali’s regime he was in prison and has become the symbolic figure of the democracy movement in Tunisia. After the ousting of Ben Ali he was appointed Secretary of State for Youth and Sports in the Tunisian interim government. In May 2011 he resigned from his office in order to focus on new projects.
Khaled Said (1982-2010, Egypt) was an Internet activist and blogger. On 6 June 2010 he was apprehended by plain-clothes police officers in an Internet cafe in Alexandria and openly beaten to death in the street. He had uploaded videos onto the Internet showing police officers abusing or intimidating people and dealing drugs. A photo of Said’s dead body was published on the Internet. Protests ensued and a Facebook page entitled “We are all Khaled Said” was created. Finally the government conceded that undercover secret police officers were responsible for his death. All these incidents turned Said into a symbolic figure for the Egyptian revolution.
The award ceremony will take place on 19 September 2011 from 17.00 to 20.00 h at House 1 of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Berlin, Hiroshimastr. 17; the laudation will be held by Dr. Joachim Gauck, Chairperson of the Association ”Against Oblivion – for Democracy”.
For the late Khaled Said, his sister Zahraa Kassem will accept the award for him.
Pictures, Interviews and Videos: Interviews with Slim Amamou and Zahraa Kassem of September 19, 2011 Picture Gallery of the event Videos of the event and the laudation Reasons for nominating Slim Amamou and Khaled Said for the award Programme of the award ceremony Press Statements (follows) Programme of the award ceremony FES Publications on the subject Social security for all: a call for social solidarity in Tunisia by Mongi Amami, FES Berlin 2011 Open Publication as PDF Tunesien in (post)revolutionärer Transformation (German) Eine Momentaufnahme by Ralf Melzer, FES Berlin 2011 Open publication as PDF Die Arabische Liga: Neuer Generalsekretär - alte Herausforderungen (German) by Felix Eikenberg, FES Cairo 2011 Open publication as pdf Quo vadis Euromed? Tunesien, das Statut Avancé und die Union für das Mittelmeer by Ralf Melzer, FES Berlin 2010 Open publication as pdf Press articles and interviews with FES staff on Egypt and Tunesia 2011 (German) Overview Links Website of FES in Egypt Website of FES in Tunesia "Tunisia: Youth Views" - Recording of an Online Conference "Despotendämmerung": Video of a discussion in Berlin from Mai 2011 The department for Middle East and North Africa of the FES (German) The Human Rights working line of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Slim Amamou's Weblog Slim Amamou on twitter