Summary: Roma rights activists awarded first-ever Raoul Wallenberg Prize

Strasbourg, 2nd December 2013 – The first-ever Council of Europe Raoul Wallenberg Prize has been awarded to Elmas Arus, a Roma film director from Turkey. Ms Arus is the Director of the Association for Zero Discrimination, a Turkish Roma rights NGO set up and run with funding from the Strategic Fund for Turkey, which is supported by SRT.

Between 2001 and 2010, Ms Arus and a group of volunteers from her university visited more than 400 Roma neighbourhoods in 38 cities in Turkey. They produced 360 hours of documentation, and created an hour-long documentary on the challenges faced by the different Turkish Roma groups. Subsequently, Ms Arus established the Association for Zero Discrimination, which has strengthened the struggle of Rome associations in Turkey for recognition of discrimination their community faces: there are now over 200 Roma associations in Turkey. Her work played a crucial role in the elaboration of the Turkish government’s ‘Roma opening’ initiative of 2009, which aimed to improve conditions for Roma.

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said, “The hard work carried out by Elmas Arus, with courage and perseverance, is a truly impressive contribution to the fight against deep-rooted prejudice and discrimination suffered by Roma populations all over our continent.”

The prize of 10,000 euros will be awarded on 17 January 2014 at the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg.

Full story from Council of Europe website:

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