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11th international conference in honour of the laureate of the 2023 Václav Havel Human Prize

  • Where: Prague Crossroads, Zlatá 1, Prague
  • When: October 10, 2023, 13:30 – 18:45

I regard as a true hero somebody who overcomes their fear because they know it’s the correct thing to do. A person who listens to their conscience, which tells them it would be right to do something. Even though reason tells them that it may be dangerous for them. (Václav Havel, 1995)

Conference Programme 

13.30 Registration  

14.00 Welcome

  • Lejla Abbasová, conference moderator  
  • Vocal performance by Ukrainian children aged 8–15, Kroky Dobra charity organisation 

14.10 Conference Opening

  • Gabriel Eichler, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Václav Havel Library

14.20 Interview with the 2023 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize laureate 

  • The laureate will be announced at a ceremony held at the beginning of the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on October 9, 2023. 
  • Chair: Barbora Kroužková – Journalist and presenter, Czech Television   
  • Vocal performance by Ukrainian children aged 8-15, Kroky Dobra charity organisation 

14.40 Panel I: Discussion with 2023 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize finalists   

Osman Kavala – Businessman, human rights defender, philanthropist and political prisoner convicted to an aggrevated life sentence (Turkey). Mr. Kavala will be represented at the conference by Jakub Szántó.
Justyna Wydrzyńska – Abortion doula and activist fighting for women's rights (Poland)
Yevhen Zakharov – Human rights defender and the founder of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (Ukraine)

  • Chair: Barbora Kroužková – Journalist and presenter, Czech Television   

15.25–15.50 Coffee Break 

15.50 Panel Keynote

Petra Procházková, Journalist, humanitarian worker and war correspondent from conflict areas of the former Soviet Union

16.00 Panel II: Face to Face with Evil 

  • Ivana Krejčová – mother of Taylor, a Czech medic and founder of the Phoenix Project who died in May 2023; the organisation’s members teach combat medicine to Ukrainian soldiers and help transport and treat the wounded on the front line (Czech Republic) 
  • Julienne Lusenge – human rights activist recognised for her advocacy for victims of sexual violence in war (Congo) 
  • Moderator:  Maryana Drach  Director, Ukrainian Service, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Ukraine)

17.10–17.30 Coffee Break 

17.30 Panel Keynote

  • Guzel Shamilyevna Yakhina, Russian author and screenwriter

17.40 Panel III: Rising from the Ashes 

  • Janina Hřebíčková – ambassador, diplomat, ex-peace negotiator and director of strategic communications on United Nations peacekeeping teams, KFOR and the International Organization for Migration (UN), former head of OSCE missions to the Western Balkans and the Middle East (Czech Republic) 
  • Vedrana Pribačić – director and journalist, screenwriter and director of the documentary Bigger Than Trauma, mapping the traumatic stories of women in the war in the former Yugoslavia (Croatia)  
  • Fatima Rahimi – Journalist and psychotherapist focused mainly on issues related to migration, social inequality and the political and social situation in Afghanistan and Iran (Czech Republic, Afghanistan)
  • Chair: Una Čilić – Digital Broadcaster Editor, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Balkan Service (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

18.50 Closing remarks​

  • Karolína Stránská – acting director of the Václav Havel Library 
  • Jolana Voldánová – director of Nadace Charty 77 

* The discussions will be held in Czech and English with a simultaneous translation from/into both languages. 

A Word about the Conference

Women in war. An association that has been with us forever but still completely new, different. Before it denoted Amazonians, although more often vivandières or women as the spoils of war. For some time this has been an inadequate outlook. There is no difference between women and men in war. Women figure as soldiers, commanders, pilots, reporters, doctors, politicians, leaders and peace negotiators, as well as mothers sending their children into battle, or homeless refugees. It would be wrong not to mention that during wars women, like men, also turn into tyrants, cruel kapos or propagandists.

Ukraine’s struggle against its Russian occupiers, which we have witnessed at close quarters over the past two years, has taken many different forms. However they have one thing in common: women play an important role. Some we meet on the streets, others we watch with bated breath on social media or in television reports, in shelters, carrying weapons on the front line or looking after destroyed farms.

How to face evil? How to control fear and hopelessness? How to deal with the death of loved ones? How to maintain composure and faith in the future? How to provide help and comfort to children? When the conflict ends, how to continue living next to the aggressors, who may never find justice? How to achieve reconciliation? Women impacted by war ask themselves these tough questions, alongside their children and families, perhaps even more intensely than men.

This year’s conference for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize will present the stories of its laureate and finalists, along with the testimonies of a few women at least from the endless list of those affected by the terror of war at various ages, times and places. What unites them all is their courage – despite all kinds of danger – to persevere and not give up. It is a great honour for us to have the opportunity to be with them and listen to them.

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