Nabeel Rajab from Bahrain to receive 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award

31st August 2011

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The Ratiu Foundation is pleased to announce that Nabeel Rajab, a human rights activist and co-founder of The Bahrain Human Rights Society, will receive the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award. One of the founders of the human rights movement in Bahrain, Nabeel Rajab is president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights. Rajab also has been active internationally as deputy secretary general for the International Federation for Human Rights and as the chairperson of CARAM-Asia, a regional network that addresses migration and health issues. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors for the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch and a member of an Arab media monitoring group. The purpose of the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award is to bring visibility and international recognition to the ideas and accomplishments of individuals around the world who are working on behalf of democracy. The event expresses the deep commitment to democracy of the late Ion Ratiu through his contributions as a Romanian politician as well as his interest in democratic change worldwide. Ion Ratiu (1917–2000) was the most outspoken and consistent voice of opposition to Nicolae Ceausescu, whose regime he opposed for years from London as the democratically elected leader of the World Union of Free Romanians. Journalist, broadcaster and author, he was also a successful businessman in shipping and property, while simultaneously operating as a kind of Scarlet Pimpernel, assisting in the rescue of many who fled from Ceausescu’s dictatorship. After fifty years in exile he returned to his homeland in 1990 to contest the presidency. Although he won a seat in Parliament, and was to serve his country for his last ten years, his failure to win the presidency was a disappointment to many. Even nowadays, on Romanian streets, Ion Ratiu is remembered fondly, often referred to as “the best president Romania never had”. The Ion Ratiu Democracy Award aims to replicate for campaigning democrats today, whether in exile from repressive regimes or representative of today’s emerging democracies, the life-changing experience in Washington DC of the Romanian democrat, Ion Ratiu, in the 1970s and 1980s. This year, the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award reaches its seventh edition. Past awardees include Sergio Aguayo (Mexico, 2005), Saad El-Din Ibrahim (Egypt, 2006), Anatoli Mikhailov (Belarus, 2007), Eleonora Cercavschi (Moldova, 2008), Adam Michnik (Poland, 2009), and Oleg Kozlovsky (Russia, 2010). You can see a selection of images from last years’ event by clicking here. A video introduction for the 2009 Award can be found here, and for the 2010 event here. The Ion Ratiu Democracy Award provides a month-long scholarship at the Wilson Center during which awardees have an opportunity to immerse themselves in the scholarly, policymaking, and NGO communities in Washington, D.C. Recipients also provide the keynote address at an international symposium on major issues confronting their democratic activism. The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the national, living memorial honouring President Woodrow Wilson. In providing an essential link between the worlds of ideas and public policy, the Center addresses current and emerging challenges confronting the United States and the world. The Center promotes policy-relevant research and dialogue to increase understanding and enhance the capabilities and knowledge of leaders, citizens, and institutions worldwide. Created by an Act of Congress in 1968, the Center is a non-partisan institution headquartered in Washington DC and supported by both public and private funds. Details on . The Ion Ratiu Democracy Award is funded by the Ratiu Foundation. The Ratiu Foundation is a charitable organisation established in 1979 by the leading Romanian dissident and democracy campaigner, Ion Ratiu, and his wife Elisabeth Ratiu. The goals of the Foundation are to further education and research in the culture and history of Romania in particular, and also to stimulate and support civil society in its understanding and application of democracy and democratic principles the world over. Details on Photo © Nabeel Rajab