The Youth Initiative for Human Rights (YIHR) Balkan regional networkm with chapters in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo, won the 2019 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, a prestigious prize awarded by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe since 2009, YIHR said on Monday.
A representative of the YIHR was presented with the prize at a ceremony in Strasbourg on Monday. The YIHR shared the prize with Ilham Tohti, advocate and defender of the rights of the Uyghur minority in China.
The programming director of the YIHR chapter in Serbia, Ivan Djuric, said at the award ceremony that YIHR would continue to work across the region on creating "a future, and societies, in which viewpoints would not be based on prejudice and unreliable information, but on personal experience and competence."
YIHR said they see the prize as "a motive to even more strongly oppose the nationalist rhetoric which leaders in the Western Balkans use in their attempts to undermine peace in the region," said Djuric. YIHR will also continue to encourage the process of coming to terms with the past, without which societies in the region "cannot achieve a lasting and sustainable peace," the group said.
The Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, which honours the former president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic, is an annual award first given out in 2009 to organisations and individuals for their contribution to protecting and promoting human rights in Europe and beyond.
Until 2013 it was called the Human Rights Prize of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.