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First winner of the Blue Days Festival Prize is Petr Uhl

Žďár nad Sázavou, 2.12.2009 14:02, (ROMEA)

Journalist and commentator Petr Uhl has become the first winner of the Blue Days Festival prize for lifelong achievement in the fight against racism. A special award for lifelong artistic contribution to the fight against racism was given to photographer Jindřich Štreit. The festival awarded the prizes for the first time this year and plans to make them an annual tradition, festival spokesperson Eva Fruhwirthová told ČTK. Other nominees included extremism expert and chair of the Tolerance civic association Ondřej Cakl, former director of the Czech Helsinki Committee František Valeš, political scientist Miroslav Mareš, and director of the Vzájemné soužití (Life Together) civic association Kumar Vishwanathan.

"While I do not underestimate the significance of the distinctions I have received in the past from several heads of state, I very much appreciate the awards that are given by civil society. I am glad that a broad section of the public is concerned about human rights,” Uhl told ČTK. He perceives the award as having the same value as the one given by Charter 77.

Uhl received the prize for his many years of active engagement in institutions concerned with human rights and for his work in Charter 77 against racism and xenophobia, among other human rights topics. From 1998 - 2001 he was the Czech Government Commissioner for Human Rights and also the chair of the Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs.

Štreit won his award for his lifelong artistic contribution to the area of social issues. For more than 30 years he has been photographing and recording the widest possible variety of aspects of human life and has exhibited more than 600 times all over the world. His photographs reveal the world of Roma communities. According to the festival organizers, his work has contributed to inclusion and closer relations between minorities and majority societies – and not only in the Czech Republic.

This year’s seventh annual multi-genre Blue Days festival focuses on racism and the rising extremist mood in Czech society. The festival opened in the Old Town Hall on 12 November with two exhibitions of photography focused on racism, the stories of foreigners in the Czech Republic, and neo-Nazism. The festival program will run until 11 December. In addition to exhibitions, the festival includes film screenings, discussions, theatrical performances and artistic workshops.

The Blue Days activities are organized by the nonprofit organization Blue World (Modrý svět). The group focuses on the long-term prevention of socio-pathological phenomena in its work with children, students, educators, parents and the public in Vysočina.

ČTK, Gwendolyn Albert, ROMEA, ROMEA, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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