Yevhen Zakharov shortlisted for the Václav Havel Prize 2023
On September 5, the selection panel of the Václav Havel Prize announced a short list of three nominees, including KHPG director Yevhen Zakharov, Turkish human rights defender and civil activist Osman Cavala, and a human rights lawyer and women’s rights defender from Poland Justyna Wydrzyńska, the PACE press service reports.
The Vaclav Havel Prize is an annual award for human rights protection achievements, established in 2013 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation.
Announcing the names of the shortlisted nominees, the PACE noted: “Yevhen Zakharov has been actively defending human rights for over 50 years in Ukraine and other ex-Soviet republics, where he documented and disseminated information about the repression of prisoners of conscience. He is the founder of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and the director of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (KHPG). The nominee assists and promotes justice and reparations for political prisoners and other victims of human rights violations. In 2022, the nominee founded a coalition of NGOs called “Tribunal for Putin”, which collects, verifies and stores evidence of war crimes."
Osman Kavala is a Turkish human rights defender, philanthropist and civic activist. He was detained in 2017 and sentenced to life in prison in 2022 on charges of financing anti-government protests in Turkey.
Justyna Wydrzyńska is a human rights lawyer and women’s rights lawyer from Poland who also defends the rights of marginalised and vulnerable populations. She founded the organization Abortion Dream Team, which fights against Poland’s restrictive abortion laws.
PACE President Tiny Cox paid tribute to all defenders of human rights who, sometimes at the cost of their lives, stand firm to protect and promote fundamental freedoms and human rights. “Today, more than ever, it is of paramount importance to celebrate the women and men who, by their courage, determination and strength, show us the path to freedom. Their fight is an example for all of us, and I am happy that the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize has celebrated their action since its creation ten years ago.”
The winner will be announced at the opening of PACE’s Autumn plenary session in Strasbourg on 9 October.
In different years, the winners of the Vaclav Havel Prize have been Russian journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza (2022), Belarusian activist Maria Kolesnikova (2021), and Oyub Tityev, head of the Grozny office of the Memorial Human Rights Center (2018), Iraqi human rights activist Nadia Murad (2016), veteran of the Russian human rights movement Lyudmila Alekseeva (2015), Azerbaijani human rights activist Anar Mammadli (2014), Belarusian human rights activist Oles Biliatski (2013).
In 2023, the Kharkiv Human Rights Group, along with paramedic Yulia Payevska and the Klitschko brothers, received The Lev Kopelev Prize for Peace and Human Rights.
Last year, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Ukrainian human rights organization Center for Civil Liberties, International Memorial, and Belarusian human rights activist Oles Biliatski. The Kharkiv Human Rights Group, which is the only active member of the International Memorial in Ukraine, received half of the prize money awarded to the Memorial to help victims of international crimes committed by Russians.