We strongly commend the Sydney Peace Foundation, under the auspice of the University of Sydney, for awarding the Sydney Peace Prize to Dr Hanan Ashrawi in recognition of “her commitment to human rights, to the peace process in the Middle East and for her courage in speaking against oppression, against corruption and for justice”.
Hanan Ashrawi grew up in the West Bank town of Ramallah, just outside Jerusalem. She studied English Literature at the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, after which she was awarded her PhD in the USA.
Dr Hanan Ashrawi became chair of the Department of English and then Dean of the Faculty of Arts at Bir Zeit University, becoming more actively involved in the Palestinian cause. She participated in speeches, performances and demonstrations, and founded and led the Bir Zeit University Legal Aid Committee and Human Rights Action Project.
From 1991 through 1993 Dr Hanan Ashrawi served as the Official Spokesperson of the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Process.
Dr Ashrawi was Minister for Higher Education and Research in the Palestinian Authority. In 1998, she resigned to better pursue her human rights advocacy. Dr Ashrawi remains a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council
Dr. Ashrawi is a member of the Independent International Commission on Kosovo and of numerous international advisory boards including the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Bank Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA), and the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD). Dr Hanan Ashrawi is presently Secretary General of MIFTAH, The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy.
She is a declared advocate of non-violence and a peaceful two state solution to the Palestine/ Israel conflict. Her own words speak most eloquently of her commitment to justice and peace:
“The dynamics of violence, revenge and all other forms of dehumanization seem to have taken hold as both Palestinians and Israelis are locked in a fatal embrace that promises to plunge both peoples into the abyss…
“How did we allow Sharon to formulate our agenda and dictate our timing by responding to his calculated provocations specifically designed to draw us within his cycle or retribution? Pain, grief and the impulse for revenge are negative motivations that give rise to mutually destructive acts of desperation. No relief and no remedy can be found in that course.
“Why and when did we allow a few from our midst to interpret Israeli military attacks on innocent Palestinian lives as license to do the same to their civilians? [February, 2002: “The (US) Progressive’]”
One cannot deny the commitment and resilience Dr Hanan Ashrawi has demonstrated over the years in advocating for peace and human rights and in building a healthy dialogue to resolve the long-term Israel/Palestine conflict.
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