Nabeel Rajab, a leading human rights activist and president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, will receive the 2011 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award, presented annually by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
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 Ion Ratiu Democracy Award aims to bring international recognition to the ideas and accomplishments of individuals around the world who are working on behalf of democracy.
“In such a tumultuous year, Nabeel Rajab’s efforts to peacefully advance democratic freedoms for Bahraini citizens, even in the face of considerable personal peril, are truly exemplary,” said Jane Harman, director, president & CEO of the Woodrow Wilson Center. “He is an exceptional choice to receive the Ion Ratiu Award and I extend my sincerest congratulations.”
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 assisting with the rescue of many who fled from Ceausescu’s dictatorship.
Whether they are in exile from repressive regimes or operating within emerging democracies, recipients of the Ion Ratiu Democracy Award are democracy advocates with the type of life-changing experience in Washington that Ion Ratiu encountered as a young Romanian democracy activist in the 1970s and 1980s. The 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.
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).
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 nonpartisan institution headquartered in Washington, D.C., and supported by both public and private funds.