The Syrian Civil Defense, commonly known as the White Helmets, has won the 2019 Elie Wiesel Award which is awarded by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum for “their remarkable courage, saving lives at enormous personal risk.”
“Today, as the Assad regime ruthlessly targets its own citizens, the White Helmets risk their lives to save their fellow citizens. The courageous actions of all the honorees are the embodiment of Elie’s warning about the perils of indifference,” said the Museum Chairman Howard Lorber.
The Museum earlier hosted a photo exhibition held under the title ‘Do not Forget Us Please!’ The exhibition featured evidence of the Assad regime’s torture of detainees in its prisons. The Museum has been giving special focus to the humanitarian aspects of the Syrian conflict, especially the plight of the detainees in the regime’s custody.
The Museum also supported a documentary film by Syrian activist Mansour Al-Omari who spent time in the prisons of the Assad regime. The film tells how Al-Omari managed to smuggle scraps of cloth out of the prison in the folds and collar of his shirt on which he wrote the names of other cellmates using blood and flakes of rust.
In October 2017, the Museum began analyzing the shirt to extract the names of detainees and inform their families who have not known anything about their loved ones or their thereabouts for years.
In comments it posted on Twitter on Wednesday, the White Helmets said it received the news of winning the 2019 Elie Wiesel Award as its rescue teams were responding to the Assad regime’s military escalation in Syria’s north.
The rescue group, which won an Oscar in 2017 for the best documentary film about their sacrifices to save civilians, said the award came as a recognition of the efforts of its volunteers to preserve human dignity.
The Syrian Coalition said that the White Helmets would remain a symbol of dedication, self-sacrifice and humanity. Their efforts and heroism will continue to be a source of pride and appreciation, the Coalition said as it commended the rescue group’s role in saving the lives of civilians and catering for their needs.
Established in 2011 after the name of the Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, the Award recognizes internationally prominent individuals whose actions have advanced the Museum’s vision of a world where people confront hate, prevent genocide and promote human dignity. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department + Inab Baladi)