Oyub Titiev, the head of the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” office in Chechnya, continued his human rights work after the murder of Natalia Estemirova in 2009 in spite of threats from the authorities. Since 9 January 2018 Oyub Titiev is kept in detention due to a falsified case of drug possession. Oyub Titiev was nominated for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize by the prize winners of past years.
Nabil Rajab is the president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR), founder of the Centre for Human Rights in the Persian Gulf, deputy secretary general of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and human rights consultant for the Middle East Human Rights Watch. He has been detained since 2016 for tweets against the military aggression of the state and criticism of torture in prisons. Rajab strenuously defended the right to use social networks and the media free from censorship and the right to criticize the policy of the state. In June 2018 the court ruled on a new punishment – 5 years in prison. Nabil Rajab was nominated for the Václav Havel Prize by the International Federation for Human Rights.
Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” supports both nominees for the Havel Prize. Both Oyub Titiev and Nabeel Rajab are being persecuted for their human rights work and are imprisoned, they did not give up the fight for human rights and became examples of civil courage.
The overall winner of the prize will be officially announced at the awarding ceremony in Strasbourg on October 8, 2018. The Vaclav Havel Prize has been awarded since 2013 for civil courage and outstanding achievements in the field of human rights. Three winners of the previous years’ prize received it while in prison for their human rights activities: Ales Bialiatski, head of the Vesna Centre for the Human Rights (Belarus) in 2013, Anar Mammadli, the founder of organization for independent monitoring of elections in Azerbaijan in 2014, Murat Arslan from Turkey in 2017.
“In this year which marks the 50th anniversary of the repression of the Prague Spring, Václav Havel’s legacy resonates in a special way. Every day, in Europe and throughout the world, women and men fight tirelessly to defend human rights – the rights of us all. Unfortunately, all too often, these persons are becoming increasingly targets for reprisals: judicial or administrative harassment, defamation campaigns and the opening of judicial investigations on dubious charges, threats, physical attacks or arbitrary detention. In the face of these threats, their immense courage and unfailing determination deserve our deepest respect. Through the award of the Václav Havel Prize we wish to express our recognition, our support and also our gratitude,” said the President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Liliane Maury Pasquier, announcing the shortlist.