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ROMEA receives award from U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic

Prague, 13.12.2012 5:11, (ROMEA)
Jarmila Balážová, chair of the ROMEA association (left), Norman L. Eisen, Ambassador of the United States of America to the Czech Republic (center), and Zdeněk Ryšavý, executive director of the ROMEA association (right) at the ceremony for the 2012 Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award. (PHOTO: František Kostlán)
Jarmila Balážová, chair of the ROMEA association (left), Norman L. Eisen, Ambassador of the United States of America to the Czech Republic (center), and Zdeněk Ryšavý, executive director of the ROMEA association (right) at the ceremony for the 2012 Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award. (PHOTO: František Kostlán)

The ROMEA civic association has become the most recent recipient of the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award, named after the oldest daughter of the first president of Czechoslovakia. The award, which was given to representatives of the association by the US ambassador on Wednesday, 12 December 2012, is announced annually on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, which has been marked on 10 December world wide since 1950.

The US Embassy established the tradition of this award in 2004 as an expression of recognition for individuals or organizations who have made extraordinary contributions to the development of human rights in the Czech Republic and who, through their support for social justice and their defense of democratic freedoms, have created an open civil society. The award is given annually and is named for the eminent Czech-American, Alice Garrigue Masaryk, as an expression of recognition for her efforts for social justice and her personal courage in advocating for human rights.

Alice Garrigue Masaryk graduated from studies in history, philosophy and sociology. She was engaged in the student movement and imprisoned for being part of the anti-Austrian resistance during the First World War. After the establishment of Czechoslovakia, she actively participated in political and public life, becoming an elected representative in the Revolutionary National Assembly (Revoluční národní shromáždění). In 1919 she established the Red Cross of Czechoslovakia, which she chaired until 1938. She also established the first High School of Social Work (Vyšší sociální škola) in Czechoslovakia  in 1919 as well. After her mother passed away in 1923, she fulfilled the role of First Lady of the republic. In 1948 she emigrated to the USA, where she lived until the end of her life. She passed away in a home for senior citizens of Czechoslovak origin in Chicago.

The first Alice Garrigue Masaryk award was given in 2004 to Jiří Kopal, a lawyer who was working at that time in the League of Human Rights. One year later, it was awarded to the human rights activist Sri Kumar Vishwanathan, who has worked for many years in Ostrava. Below is a list of the other recipients.

  • Czeslaw Walek (2011)
  • Anna Šabatová (2010)
  •  David Ondráčka (2009)
  •  Igor Blaževič (2008)
  • the weekly RESPEKT (2007)
  • Lucie Sládková (2006)
  • Kumar Sri Vishwanathan (2005) 
  • Jiří Kopal (2004)

FOTOGALERIE

NEPŘEHLÉDNĚTE

Last year's recipient, Czeslaw Walek, a lawyer who is partially of Polish origin and who has served as Deputy Human Rights Minister in the past, is now the chair of the Prague Pride civic association. He said the following of this year's award:

"To me, the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award definitely was an unbelievably great honor. From the start I never viewed it as an appreciation of my work alone, but the work of everyone who collaborated with me, in particular the Prague Pride team. I am convinced that award was for all of those people. I am glad the US Embassy supported the LGBT topic as a human rights topic appropriate for society-wide discussion. Not many awards in the Czech Republic support young activists. We give awards here in general for people who have proven themselves worthy, and that's probably the right way to do it. On the other hand, I do consider it important to sometimes support someone in the middle of their career, who might be having doubts - that's normal. The award is a kind of expression of support for human rights activists, and support like that is really needed in life. By the way, I welcome the ROMEA civic association among the recipients of this award, whose work I truly value a great deal. I think this award is in really good hands - moreover, the so-called 'Romani' issue is another one that is highly topical in society today."

The chair of the ROMEA association, Jarmila Balážová, and executive director of the association, Zdeněk Ryšavý, received the award on the occasion of International Human Rights Day from US Ambassador Norman Eisen on Wednesday, 12 December. "The Embassy of the United States of America is giving the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award for 2012 to the ROMEA association for its longtime advocacy of human rights questions concerning Romani people in the Czech Republic. ROMEA is contributing to a balanced depiction of Romani people in the media by focusing on the stories of individuals from Romani communities and describing events that would otherwise go unnoticed. It does so through its printed monthly journal, Romano voďi (Romani Soul), through the country's most-visited website on this topic, Romea.cz and through its systematic collaboration with majority-society media. ROMEA also publishes articles in Czech and English that raise awareness of these topics. Through its work, this civic association supports tolerance and understanding among Romani people and the rest of society and also contributes to balance in the Czech media," the US Ambassador to the Czech Republic said.

"We are even more gratified to have won this award because we find ourselves in the company of people such as David Ondračka, Igor Blaževič, Anna Šabatová, the weekly RESPEKT and others whom we prize. Through its embassy, the United States of America has long devoted itself to human rights topics here, including Romani ones, and the giving of the Alice Garrigue Masaryk Award and support is one is of the ways it does that," said Jarmila Balážová, chair of ROMEA, o.s. The executive director of the organization, Zdeněk Ryšavý, added: "This confirms for us that, together with our colleagues, we must be doing our work in the media and other areas well."

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Aktuality, Lidská práva, ROMEA, USA, Aktivismus, Občanská společnost, Romové, Czech republic, news, Roma, world



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