President of Gaza Community Mental Health Programme,
Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj wins Olof Palme Prize
President of Gaza Community Mental Health Programme Dr. Eyad El-Sarraj won the 2010 Olof Palme Prize for his “self-sacrificing and indefatigable struggle for common sense, reconciliation, and peace” between Palestine and Israel, the Swedish jury said. “He has brought into the light the destructive influence of repression on mental health”, the Olof Palme Memorial Fund said in a statement.
Named after the Swedish Prime Minister killed in February 1986, the Olof Palme Prize is an annual prize awarded for outstanding achievement that helps to advance peace and disarmament and to combat racism.
Commenting on this occasion, Dr. El-Sarraj said, “I am proud and happy to receive this prize, but I consider that the real heroes are the victims of violence, torture and war…This prize gives me hope and encourages me to continue to fight to defend those whose rights have been abused, and to work for justice and peace.”
This award speaks of Dr. El- Sarraj’s professional career which for more than 30 years has integrated medicine and human rights. Dr. El-Sarraj founded the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme in 1990, a non-governmental organization that continues to play a unique role as multi-service clinical provider, professional trainer and educator, and social advocate. Dr. El- Sarraj served as expert witness before the United Nations-mandated Goldstone Commission on the war crimes committed during Israel’s war on Gaza two years ago. He remains in the forefront of efforts to promote national reconciliation between rival Palestinian political groups.
Earlier, in 2010, Dr. El- Sarraj received “Juan J. Lopez Ibor” 2010 Award, one of the most prestigious awards in psychiatry which honors those who have devoted their professional careers to the rights and dignity of patients and who have contributed to the promotion of mental health through scientific research.
The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme (GCMHP), represented by its Board of Directors, general administration and staff, congratulates Dr. El- Sarraj for this award. We take strength from the example he has set for us. We remain resolute in our determination to keep faith with his guiding principles: seeking peace and justice and speaking truth to power.
On behalf of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, long time supporters of GCMHP, I would like to convey our warm congratulations to Dr Eyad El-Sarraj on this well deserved honour bestowed on him. He has shown heroic fortitude in the face of the great pressure and is an example to all through his unwavering pursuit of justice and equality. We fervently hope that the work he and so many unsung heroes continue to accomplish will bring the days of justice, equality, decency and peace ever nearer.
With best wishes,
Diana Neslen, Secretary, Jews for Justice for Palestinians