Amnesty International Germany honors the Nadeem Centre for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence and Torture in Cairo for its fight against torture in Egypt yesterday, with a festive award ceremony at the Volksbuehne theatre in Berlin, which it was built during the years 1913 to 1914 and it also known as the most iconic venue in town and “theatre of the people”.
The ceremony was presented by Katja Riemann and included performances by the musicians Fetsum and Damien Rice with Cantus Domus, and actress Anne Tismer.
Amnesty International Germany’s award pays tribute to the centre’s decade-long fight against torture in Egypt. “The Nadeem Centre offers urgently necessary medical and psychological care to people who have survived torture and other violence in Egypt. The centre gives hope and courage to thousands of people – and sends out an important signal against the widespread use of torture in Egyptian detention facilities. With our 2018 Human Rights Award, we want to make public and support this fearless commitment in a country where the use of violence by state security forces is daily fare”, said Markus N. Beeko, Secretary General of Amnesty International Germany.
For 25 years, the Nadeem Centre has been documenting cases of torture by the Egyptian security forces and operates the only specialist clinic to treat survivors of torture and violence in the country. Ever since 2016, the authorities have been taking massive action to disrupt the organisation’s operations. The centre’s clinic was closed down in February 2017. However, despite of all these repressive measures, Dr. Aida Seif al-Dawla, Dr. Suzan Fayad, Dr. Magda Adly and the other courageous staff members of the centre are continuing their work.
The 33-year old doctor and human rights activist Taher Mokhtar accepted the award on behalf of the Nadeem Centre. Out of concern for his security, he had to leave Egypt in December 2016. “Even in the most difficult moments, when we in Egypt had almost lost all our hope, the fighters of the Nadeem Centre were always on the frontline. Their patience and their tenacity set an example for the whole human rights movement in Egypt”, said Mokhtar. “On behalf of the Nadeem Centre, I thank Amnesty International for this important award. It shines a bright light on our human rights work and recalls the fate of the survivors of torture in Egypt and worldwide.”
The laudatory speech was delivered by Salil Shetty, International Secretary General of Amnesty International. “Whoever stands up for the defence of human rights in Egypt puts his or her own freedom and safety at risk”, said Shetty. “This makes the fearless commitment of the Nadeem-women and their staff even more admirable. Despite all the repressive measures applied by the government, they don’t give up on survivors of torture, but make sure that the crimes of security forces are being brought to light.”
Damien Rice, who has supported Amnesty International in several occasions, performed yesterday at the Volksbuehne Theatre with Cantus Domus. Damien also played with them in Berlin in 2016 and in Paris in december 2017 at the Olympia for a tribute show to Eleanor Roosevelt, who is the woman that played a crucial role in the adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The gig was arranged by Bill Shipsey, founder of Art for Amnesty and human rights activist. It was part of “Eleanor’s Dream” project, concieved in order to promote a world in which the rights of all human being are fully respected. (link here: http://www.riocarnivalfanzine.com/wordpress/damien-rice-a-parigi-per-amnesty-international/).
Damien’s sensitivity to human rights, along with his altruism, willingness and compassion, inspired yesterday’s performance with Cantus Domus playing “It takes a lot to know a man”, and honoured the audience with memorable moments.