Eyad El-Sarraj, Palestinian Laureate of MEA 1998, dies at 69

December 18, 2013

Today, 18 December 2013,  Scoop News brings the sad news that Palestinian Human Rights Defender Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj, Palestinian psychiatrist and Commissioner-General of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens’ Rights, passed away in Gaza a few hours ago. Born in Beersheva, Palestine on 27 April 1944, Dr El-Sarraj arrived with his family in Gaza in 1948 as a refugee. He grew up to become the first psychiatrist to practice in Gaza, beginning in 1977. Dr El-Sarraj went on to found and direct the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme [GCMHP], which he established in 1990 to promote the mental well-being of three major target groups in the Palestinian community: children, women, and victims of organized violence and torture. “We strongly believe that there is a correlation between human rights and mental health, because sound mental health cannot be gained under violent circumstances, and human rights will not be respected in a society exposed to ongoing trauma,” states the organisation’s strategy document. His human rights work was not without cost – in 1996 he was arrested and tortured for condemning torture and violation of human rights by the Palestinian Authorities.  In 1998 he received the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders [MEA], in 1997 the Physicians for Human Rights Award, and in 2010 the Swedish labour movement’s  Olof Palme Prize. In the same year, Dr El-Sarraj was jointly awarded the Juan José López-Ibor prize in psychiatry, along with Professor Jules Angst, in recognition of his contribution to advancement of the rights and dignity of people with a mental illness, and his scientific research. Other notable activities include being a consultant to the Palestinian delegation at the Camp David 2000 Summit, and his appearance as an expert witness before the United Nations-mandated Goldstone Commission on the war crimes committed during Israel’s 2008-9 military offensive “Operation Cast Lead.” His evidence on the long-term psycho-social impacts of the conflict on civil society in Gaza was quoted in the final report. The light that Iyad El-Sarraj shone into some of the darkest corners of Palestine can not be dimmed by his death. “You are the window through which I can breathe,” one of his patients once told him. His legacy of hope, and a legion of Palestinians both taught and inspired by him, will continue his important work.  During his acceptance speech at the MEA ceremony he said, “Receiving this award reminded me of one of the persons I left behind in prison. He said to me: ‘Don’t forget me… please… don’t forget me’.” The best we can do now, is the same for El Sarraj: Don’t forget him… please… don’t forget him!

For more information and a video on El Sarraj and his work see: http://www.martinennalsaward.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=83&Itemid=107&lang=en

via Palestinian Human Rights Defender Dies at 69 | Scoop News.

One Response to “Eyad El-Sarraj, Palestinian Laureate of MEA 1998, dies at 69”

  1. Rob Brouwer Says:

    Dag Hans, Dat is een heel triest bericht. El-Sarraj was een bijzonder en ook bijzonder innemnde persoonlijkheid. Gelukkig dat het gefilmde portret er is om te kunnen tonen. Groeten van Rob uit Managua Nicaragua en Havana Cuba

    Eurovideo productions Senior Audiovisual Consultant and Media Trainer Nieuwe Prinsengracht 52 3e 1018VS Amsterdam 31206256907 31(0)651804948


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