By Agence France Presse (AFP)
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
STOCKHOLM: Palestinian psychiatrist Eyad al-Sarraj won Tuesday the 2010 Olof Palme Prize for his “self-sacrificing and indefatigable struggle for common sense, reconciliation and peace” in the Middle East, the Swedish jury said.
Sarraj, who in 1977 became the first psychiatrist to practice in Gaza, is the founder of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program, an N.G.O. focused on improving the mental well-being in the Palestinian community.
The 66-year-old psychiatrist has “in his professional and political work … stood on the side of the individual human being, regardless of nationality, gender or social position,” the Olof Palme Memorial Fund said in a statement.
“He has brought into the light the destructive influence of repression on mental health. He has shown the connections arising between confinement, hopelessness, desperation and violence, and how this is neglected by both Palestinian and Israeli authorities,” it added.
Sarraj said he was surprised at the award but happy.
“I am proud and happy to receive this prize but I consider that the real heroes are the victims of violence, torture and war, not me,” Sarraj told A.F.P. in the Gaza Strip.
“This prize gives me hope and encourages me to continue to fight to defend those whose rights have been abused in Palestine, by the Israelis or the Palestinian Authority, and to work for justice and peace.”
Sarraj will receive his award and the $75,000 prize money at an official ceremony at the Swedish Parliament on Jan. 28.
The Olof Palme award for outstanding achievement aims at promoting peace and disarmament and combating racism and xenophobia. – A.F.P.