Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent

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Václav Havel Prize Award Ceremony in 2018

Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent is an award established in 2012 by the New York City-based Human Rights Foundation (HRF). According to HRF President Thor Halvorssen, the prize recognizes individuals "who engage in creative dissent, exhibiting courage and creativity to challenge injustice and live in truth".[1]

Named in honor of Czech dissident playwright and politician Václav Havel, who died in December 2011, the award was founded with the help of his widow, Dagmar Havlová.[2] Google co-founder Sergei Brin and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel provided part of the prize's funding.[3]


Year Laureates Notes
2012 Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, and Saudi Arabian women's rights activist Manal al-Sharif[3] Presented on 9 May in Oslo, Norway by the Oslo Freedom Forum.[4] After al-Sharif's speech was viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube, she lost her job as an Internet security consultant at Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of Saudi Arabia.[5] Presenter Garry Kasparov stated that the three awardees had "shown not only courage, but passion and humor, that exposes the inhumanity of dictatorship".[4]
2013 Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat, North Korean democracy activist Park Sang Hak, and Cuban civil society group the Ladies in White Presented on 15 May by the Oslo Freedom Forum.[6] Berta Soler, leader of the Ladies in White, received the award on her first journey outside of her native Cuba, while also receiving the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.[7]
2014 Turkish protester and performance artist Erdem Gunduz, Russian punk rock protest group Pussy Riot, and Tibetan documentary filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen[8]
2015 Sudanese nonviolent resistance movement Girifna, Indonesian stand-up comedian Sakdiyah Ma'ruf, and Cuban graffiti artist and activist El Sexto.[8]
2016 Iranian cartoonist Atena Farghadani, Russian performance artist Petr Pavlensky and Uzbek photojournalist Umida Akhmedova.[9] Pavlensky's prize was withdrawn by the Human Rights Foundation after he announced his intention to dedicate the award and prize money to the "Primorsky Partisans," a group of six then-teenagers in the Russian Far East who in 2010 declared a "guerrilla war" on police to "protest corruption and lawlessness and were given lengthy prison sentences for the murder of three officers, robbery, and theft".[10] In a letter, the Foundation said that the revocation was "unfortunate and unprecedented" and that those who have "advocated the use of violence as a valid method to fight government oppression" are barred from receiving the award.[10]
2017 Zimbabwean artist and activist Silvanos Mudzvovm, Bahraini poet and activist Ayat Al-Qurmezi and Venezuelan satirical website El Chigüire Bipolar.[11] Presented on 24 May by the Oslo Freedom Forum.
2018 Emmanuel Jal, Belarus Free Theatre and Mai Khôi. Presented on 30 May by the Oslo Freedom Forum.
2019 Rap Against Dictatorship (Thai rappers),[12] Rayma Suprani, Venezuelan cartoonist; Ramy Essam, Egyptian musician.[13] Presented on 29 May at the Oslo Freedom Forum.
2020 Chinese artist Badiucao, Saudi vlogger Omar Abdulaziz and Rwandan gospel singer Kizito Mihigo.[14] Presented online on 25 September during the Virtual Oslo Freedom Forum.
2022 Professional basketball player and human rights advocate Enes Kanter Freedom,
Iranian artist project PaykanArtCar, and
Ukrainian-born Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova. [15]
Enes Kanter Freedom received the prize for raising awareness of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s human rights abuses,
PaykanArtCar for inspiring diaspora Iranian artists to advocate for human rights in Iran, and
Marina Ovsyannikova for staging a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine 2022 during a news broadcast of Russian state TV.
Presented on 25 May by the Oslo Freedom Forum.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent". Human Rights Foundation. 11 April 2012. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  2. ^ "Inaugural Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent awarded to Ai Weiwei, Manal al-Sharif, and Aung San Suu Kyi". HavelPrize.org. 2 May 2012. Archived from the original on 8 May 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  3. ^ a b "A Prize for Creative Dissent". The Wall Street Journal. 13 May 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Ceremony: Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent". Oslo Freedom Forum. 9 May 2012. Archived from the original on 16 May 2012. Retrieved 16 May 2012.
  5. ^ Paul Aarts & Carolien Roelants, Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom in Peril (Oxford University Press, 2015), p. 76.
  6. ^ "Recipients". The Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent. Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  7. ^ Tamaya, Juan. "Dissidents say they are returning to Cuba reenergized". The Miami Herald. Archived from the original on June 30, 2013. Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent". Human Rights Foundation: The Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  9. ^ Foundation, Human Rights. "2016 Havel Prize Awarded to Atena Farghadani, Petr Pavlensky, and Umida Akhmedova | News | Human Rights Foundation". Human Rights Foundation. Archived from the original on 2016-06-05. Retrieved 2016-05-27.
  10. ^ a b Tom Balmforth, Russian Protest Artist Stripped Of Havel Prize Over Support For 'Partisans', Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (July 8, 2016).
  11. ^ "El Václav Havel no es un chiste para El Chigüire Bipolar". El Nacional. 21 May 2017. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  12. ^ Charuvastra, Teeranai (27 May 2019). "Anti-Junta Rappers Awarded Creative Dissent Prize". Khaosod English. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  13. ^ "2019 Oslo Freedom Forum Program". Oslo Freedom Forum. Retrieved 31 May 2019.
  14. ^ "2020 Havel Prize Laureates from China, Saudi Arabia, and Rwanda Announced". Human Rights Foundation. 17 September 2020.
  15. ^ "HRF Announces the 2022 Havel Prize Laureates". Human Rights Foundation. 3 May 2022.