B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad at French Republic 2018 Human Rights Award ceremony: Hysterical Israeli government response illustrates reality of propaganda, lies, and threats B’Tselem operates in; we will act with determination to end the occupation
The Human Rights Award of the French Republic is now being presented at the Ministry of Justice in Paris to this year’s laureates. At the ceremony, B’Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad thanked the National Consultative Commission on Human Rights (CNCDH) for the award, saying “The occupation, in and of itself, is organized, prolonged, state violence, which brings about dispossession, killings, and oppression. All branches of the state are part of it: ministers and judges, officers and planners, parliamentarians and bureaucrats. Those who lead the opposition to this unjust reality are human rights organizations – precisely because we categorically reject violence and harm to civilians.”
El-Ad also addressed the pressure that Israeli government officials tried to exert on decision-makers in France: “The hysterical response by Israeli government officials, attempting to prevent this prize from being awarded, illustrates the reality within which we work: propaganda, lies, and threats by a government which believes that silencing and coverup will enable further human rights violations. In the face of this moral bankruptcy, we are here not only to further expose the truth – but also to bring an end to the injustice.”
This year, which marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the prize was awarded to organizations being harassed or pressured for defending and promoting human rights. Joint-recipients, Israeli NGO B’Tselem and Palestinian NGO Al-Haq – both human rights organizations working to end the Israeli occupation – were among this year’s five laureates. The others are human rights defenders from China, Colombia, Niger and Belarus.
The Human Rights Award, entitled “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” is endowed by the French government. It has been awarded annually since 1988 by the CNCDH. Past laureates include human rights defenders from various countries, including Nicaragua, Côte d'Ivoire, Haiti, Cambodia, Colombia, Rwanda and France.