The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) proudly announces that the director of its Egypt office, Mohamed Zaree, is the recipient of the 2017 Martin Ennals Award, a prestigious international award for human rights defenders from the Martin Ennals Foundation. The award is dedicated to prominent human rights defenders who face great personal risks and dangers. Zaree emphasized that he viewed this honor not as a recognition of his work alone, but as a “recognition of the tens of thousands of Egyptian citizens who have been tortured, imprisoned, disappeared or killed over the last 6 years. Killed for nothing more than standing up to corruption and tyranny through peaceful means.”
Zaree was one of three finalists, along with Karla Avelar (El Salvador) and Free the 5 Defenders (Cambodia), selected in April from among hundreds of human rights defenders around the world. Today, October 10, 2017, at the awards ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland, the panel of ten judges representing major human rights organizations around the world,announced it had chosen Zaree as this year’s laureate. Zaree could not attend the ceremony due to a travel ban from the Egyptian authorities.
The award was granted in recognition of Zaree’s leading role in advocating for the freedom of association and expression and his coordination of joint action among independent Egyptian rights organizations. Zaree risks life imprisonment and has been banned from travel, while the assets of the his Egypt office as well as those of CIHRS director Bahey eldin Hassan have been frozen. Kate Gilmore, the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave the award to Zaree’s family, who accepted it on his behalf.