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Al-Haq, B'Tselem jointly awarded human rights prize

Nov. 22, 2011 10:43 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 23, 2011 2:10 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations B'Tselem and Al-Haq have been jointly honored with an annual human rights award by the Danish PL Foundation.

The award has been given to individuals and organizations struggling non-violently for universal human rights since the 1980s.

The award ceremony will take place in Copenhagen on Nov. 29 and will be presented by Danish supreme court justice Poul Soegaard, a statement from B'Tselem said Sunday.

Director of Al-Haq Shawan Jabarin told Ma'an that "recognition of the work of human rights activists is always important for those in the field."

"Sometimes after a long time of defending human rights without any impact or change people can lose hope, but recognition keeps hope alive."

Jabarin added that human rights were one of the key issues in the Arab Spring, with people struggling for their dignity across the region.

Sarit Michaeli from B'Tselem told Ma'an that it was an honor to receive the award and an important recognition at a time "where human rights NGOs are under assault from the Israeli government and Knesset members."

Al-Haq is an independent rights organization based in Ramallah that has documented violations of individual and collective human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1979.

Its director, Shawan Jabarin, is prohibited from leaving the West Bank by Israel on the basis that he is an active PFLP member. Head of Monitoring and Documentation Nina Atallah will attend the ceremony in his place while Executive Director Jessica Montell will attend for B'Tselem.

Speaking about his travel ban, Jabarin said Al-Haq would continue its mission despite pressure from Israel.

The PL Foundation and the annual human rights award were established by Poul Lauritzen, a Danish businessman and member of the Danish resistance during World War II.

The PL Award has been awarded to human rights activists across the globe, from Serbia to Burma.

Israeli human rights organizations have been the target of recent legislative proposals by the Israeli government which would limit their foreign funding in a move criticized as an attempt to silence anti-occupation groups.

The bill was passed last week, although media reports on Sunday suggested Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would delay its ratification.

While the bill did not specify which Israeli organizations were being targeted, one of its sponsors, Likud lawmaker Ofir Akounis, cited B'Tselem as a recipient of foreign aid.
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