Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

Leyla Yunus wins 11th edition of Polish Prize of Sergio Vieira de Mello

Imprisoned Azeri social activist Leyla Yunus has been awarded the 11th Edition of the Polish Prize of Sergio Vieira de Mello on 23 October 2014 in honour of her contribution to peaceful coexistence and cooperation between societies, religions and cultures. 

Leyla Yunus is a vocal social activist in Azerbaijan whose release has been actively advocated by the EaP CSF over the last few months. She is the founder of the Institute for Peace and Democracy during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and has been involved in fighting against human trafficking as well as supporting the forcibly evicted and political prisoners in the country.

Linked to her political activities, Ms. Yunus and her husband were arrested by Azeri authorities in April 2014 as part of a government campaign to silence civil society. The couple remains in government custody despite international condemnation of the detention. 

Alongside Ms. Yunus, the laureate for the NGO category of the prize was Amalipe Centre for Interethnic Dialogue and Tolerance, an organization supporting equal rights and integration of the Roma in Bulgarian society.

The prize, named after Sergio Viera de Mello, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights (2002-3) has been awarded annually for the last 10 years in recognition of the achievements of both people and NGOs.

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