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Home / Press Release / Human Rights First Celebrates Awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad
October 05, 2018

Human Rights First Celebrates Awarding of Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad

New York City – Human Rights First hailed today’s announcement by the Norwegian Nobel Committee that it had awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize to Dr. Denis Mukwege, a gynecological surgeon from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and to Nadia Murad, a Yazidi Kurdish human rights activist.  

In 2013, Human Rights First honored Dr. Mukwege with its annual Human Rights Award for his tireless and courageous work on behalf of women victims of rape in war-torn Congo.  For nearly 20 years, Dr. Mukwege has helped women traumatized by gang rape in Eastern Congo, becoming the world’s leading expert in this grim specialty. He founded Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, where he and his colleagues have treated thousands of women since 1998, providing them psychological, medical, socio-economic and legal support.  Dr. Mukwege has also been an outspoken advocate, calling for accountability for these horrific crimes, often at great risk to himself and his family.  

Since escaping from captivity at the hands of ISIS in late 2014, Nadia Murad has campaigned bravely and relentlessly on behalf of sexual violence victims and Iraq’s Yazidi population, testifying frequently before the U.N. and other bodies. Her work is widely credited with building global awareness of what the United States and others have labeled ISIS’s genocide against the Yazidis. In 2016, Human Rights First presented its annual Human Rights Award to Iraqi human rights leaders Khaleel Aldakhi and Ameena Saeed Hasan, husband and wife activists recognized for their courageous work rescuing Yazidi women and girls enslaved by ISIS.     

“Dr. Mukwege and Nadia Murad couldn’t be more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Human Rights First’s Senior Vice President for Policy Rob Berschinski. "Few have done more to shine a glaring spotlight on rape as a weapon of war, fight the stigma so frequently and unfairly attached to victims of these abhorrent crimes, and demand accountability for perpetrators. In very different ways, they are each transformative leaders of remarkable bravery.”  

For 40 years, Human Rights First has presented its annual award, recently renamed the William D. Zabel Human Rights Award, to courageous activists on the frontlines of the struggle for freedom and dignity. In 2018, the organization will honor Márta Pardavi, co-chair of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, for her work fighting for the rights of refugees, migrants, and other marginalized groups in Hungary and across Europe. Previous recipients include: Friar Tomás González of Mexico; Iraqi human rights activists Khaleel Aldakhi and Ameena Saeed Hasan; European activists Jane Braden-Golay, Siavosh Derakhti, and Niddal El-Jabri; Ryan Boyette of the United States and South Sudan; Dennis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo; Chen Guangcheng of China; Basem Fathy of Egypt; Shehrbano Tasser of Pakistan; Julius Kaggwa of Uganda; Viktória Mohácsi of Hungary; Damos De Blanco (Ladies in White) of Cuba; Ludmilla Alexeeva of Russia; Helen Mack of Guatemala; Merenghiz Kar of Iran; Saad Eddin Ibrahim of Egypt; Albie Sachs of South Africa; and Hina Jalani of Pakistan.

For more information or to speak with Berschinski, contact Christopher Plummer at PlummerC@humanrightsfirst.org or 202-370-3310.