The jury of the Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Award decided that this year’s laureates will be Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Maria Kalesnikava and Volha Kavalkova, who fight for democratic standards in Belarus. The official awards gala will take place on Friday 4th June on the anniversary of the first partly free election in 1989.
This year’s laureates have to live in times different from those in which Jan Nowak-Jeziorański acted. However, these times are only apparently different. The laureates’ homeland – Belarus – remains an authoritarian island on the map of predominantly democratic Europe. It is still a territory where the fight for a state being the common good of all inhabitants is dispersed with rubber truncheons and tear gas.
Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, Maria Kalesnikava and Volha Kavalkova have joined forces for a purpose being as noble as in the case of the legendary Courier from Warsaw.
In the name of fight for human rights, the Belarusian female activists undertook a difficult and highly risky task. Tikhanovskaya's husband is in prison, and she, intimidated and under surveillance, is in exile. She stresses that she is not a professional politician, but, nevertheless, she tries to unite the nation around herself, to keep up the spirit of protest in it and to fight for justice and democratic values. At the same time, she intends to respect the procedures and persist until the moment when the new leader of Belarus is elected in accordance with Western standards.
Poland is very close to this year’s laureates. They refer to Eastern European experience in fighting for human rights. They talk about the Solidarity and the achievements of the Polish democratic opposition. Finally, they refer to the experience of the difficult and “bumpy” route of transformation.
‘This is very symbolic that when the whole world is looking at troubling events in Belarus, the women who fight for the independence of their homeland become laureates of this year’s Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Award,’ stresses Jacek Sutryk, Mayor of Wroclaw.
Granted since 2004, the Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Award was established by Jan Nowak-Jeziorański, the City of Wroclaw, the College of Eastern Europe, the University of Wroclaw and the Ossoliński National Institute.
The award is always granted on 4th June. It goes to persons who impersonate “thinking of the state as the common good” as well as institutions that significantly contributed to the fall of communism, the restoration of Poland’s independence and the formation of a civic society in Central and Eastern European countries.