On Tuesday 27 December 2011, the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), and the Gazan Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) organized a ceremony to honor the winners of a human rights contest for students.
The ceremony was held at Orient House restaurant in Gaza City.
The competition was divided into two tracks.
The first was for best painting and targeted 20 UNRWA schools located near the borders.
The second was for the best essay on human rights and targeted university students.
The ceremony was attended by: Mr.
Issam Younis, Al Mezan’s director; Mrs.
Shirin Ash-Shobaki, training and mass communication unit coordinator at Al Mezan; Scott Anderson, UNRWA’s Gaza Field Administration Officer; Dr.
Iyad Naser, consultant for human rights to UNRWA’s Gaza Field Administration Officer; Dr.
Mahmoud Al Hemdieat, head of educational programs at the MoHE; Khalil Al Halabi, vice chairman of educational programs at the MoHE; Mr.
Mohammed Siyam, director of educational activity at the MoHE; a group of directors and observers of UNRWA programs; human rights teachers; the contest winners and their parents; and several representatives of community-based organizations.
About 200 persons attended the ceremony in total.
Ash-Shobaki opened the ceremony by welcoming the participants and the main speakers.
She provided a summary of the contests and thanked those who had contributed their efforts.
Issam Younis thanked the participants, UNRWA, and the Ministry of Higher Education for their continuous cooperation.
He then discussed the reality of the human rights situation in the Gaza Strip, the third anniversary of Israel’s aggression against Gaza (codenamed “Operation Cast Lead”), and other Israeli violations of human rights.
He pointed out the international community’s obligation to bring Israeli occupation forces to justice for the crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead.
He concluded by congratulating the winners and asserting that the promotion of human rights culture is a common goal of all the participating bodies.
Anderson thanked Al Mezan for implementing activities such as the contest which promote human rights among students and raise their awareness of human rights issues.
He expressed his hope that cooperation with Al Mezan in such ventures would continue and his satisfaction with the paintings produced.
He also thanked the Ministry of Higher Education for its cooperation in implementing the contest activities.
Iyad Naser provided interpretation for Mr.
Siyam thanked Al Mezan for implementing programs like the contest which aim to promote and disseminate human rights values among students.
He also thanked UNRWA for its effective contributions in promoting human rights culture.
During the ceremony the prizes were handed out to contest winners.
Nine students received first place prizes in the UNRWA school contest.
They are: · Shahed Abu E’liyan, · Naem Abu Al Jubeen, · Rozan Abu Jame’, · Ashraf Dabour, · Basel Hamad, · Amel E’lewa, · Ahmed Az-Za’aneen, · Shrouq Abu E’iyada, and · Amera Al Maseri.
Each received $150 and a certificate.
Nine students took second place, each receiving $120 and a certificate.
They are: · Aya Abu Reda, · Ramez Abu Jame’, · Raneen Abu Jame’, · Walaa’ Abu At-Tef, · Shaemaa’ Nour, · Nisreen E’iyada, · Helmi Abu Oda, · Lu’ai Abu ‘Ammsha, and · Safaa’ Shalhoub.
Nine students won third place and received $100 and an honors certificate.
They are: · Eman Al Agha, · Malak Sheikh Al Eid, · Naji Khdeer, · Ghada Abu Teer, · Ragheb An-Najjar, · Alaa’ Ad-Daghma, · Nour Abu Namous, · Amna Shreem, and · Mohammed Abu Ar-Rous.
Tala Rezeq won the prize for distinguished painting.
She received $150 and an honors certificate.
Her painting was displayed on the ceremony invitation and banners.
In the best essay on human rights contest, the committee did not issue first prize as there were no essays truly deserving of it.
Saber Shehata, a sophomore at Al Azhar University, wrote an essay titled “63 Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Human Rights in the Arab Spring, Facebook, and Youth Movements,” for which he took second place.
Alaa’ Ad-Din ‘Asqoul, a student at the Islamic University, wrote an essay titled “This Is for the Conscience, What about for the Intellect?”, which won third place.
Abdallah Al Batnehi, a student form Al Azhar University, wrote an essay on “Human Rights and their Relation to Mental Health,” which also took third place.
All three students received a reward of $200 and an honors certificate.
Ash-Shobaki concluded the ceremony by congratulating the winners.
She also announced the opening of a gallery for display of 150 of the best paintings from the contest, including the winning paintings.