International Peace Bureau awards the Sean MacBride Peace Prize 2011 to Hanaa Edwar (Iraqi women’s rights and democracy activist)

14th Sept. 2011, Geneva
The International Peace Bureau is delighted to announce that this year’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize is to be awarded to an individual who has contributed in many different ways to the advancement of democracy and human rights, and who has taken a firm stand against violence and war: Hanaa Edwar.

The prize has been awarded each year since 1992 by the International Peace Bureau (IPB), founded in 1892. Previous winners include: Binalakshmi Nepram (India, 2010), Betty Reardon (USA, 2009), Jayantha Dhanapala (Sri Lanka, 2007) and the Mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (2006). It is named after Sean MacBride, a distinguished Irish statesman who shared the 1974 Nobel Peace Prize, and is given to individuals or organisations for their outstanding work for peace, disarmament and human rights. (details at:

Note: A second medal will also be awarded this year to the German anti-nuclear lawyer Peter Becker.

Born 1946 in Basra, Iraq, Hanaa Edwar became an activist already as a student. She joined the Iraqi Women’s League while very young, and was arrested after the Ba’athist-led coup in 1963. Escaping from prison, she moved to Germany to represent the Iraqi Women’s League at the Women’s International Democratic Federation in the 1970s.
After this period she moved to Lebanon and then Syria, and became a strong activist in the struggle against the dictatorship. She also joined the resistance movement in Iraqi Kurdistan for three years, but not in a military position. Forced to migrate again, she formed the Iraqi Al-Amal Association. This was located first in Damascus, and then from 1996 the organization settled in Erbil, Kurdistan. After the fall of the regime in 2003 she moved the head office to Baghdad.
Hanaa’s name has become synonymous with the defence of human rights, with a long track record of activities. She has been instrumental in the formation of the Iraqi Women’s Network, made up of more than 80 organizations. One of her most recent campaigns was lodging a law suit at the High Court of Iraq against the Speaker of the Parliament for acting unconstitutionally to hinder the formation of a government after the last election. This campaign became known as the Civil Initiative for the Preservation of the Constitution.
Her action at the Human Rights Conference in Baghdad on 5 June 2011, to defend civil society organizations and to demand the release of four arrested young people, highlighted the increased attacks on civil liberties in general in Iraq. Her protest led to the release of the four youths.
IPB’s Co-President Tomas Magnusson comments: “Hanaa Edwar is an extraordinary woman activist, well-known in the whole of Iraq for her strong positions in the slow moving process among politicians. She is brave, and under constant threat for her life, but not slowing down in any way her mission. She is a most worthy laureate, determined and energetic, with an impressive record of activities to strengthen human rights and democracy, to develop civil society, and to defend women’s rights. She has been an outspoken and tireless challenger of the ruling parties, the Ba’athists and male-dominated politics in general.”

The Prize, a silver medal contributed annually by the Irish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, will be awarded on the evening of Sat. 29 October 2011 at the City Hall in Potsdam, as part of the annual gathering of the International Peace Bureau (details at: international symposium on the life and work of Alfred Fried (Nobel Peace Prize 1911) and IPB Council meeting.

About IPB
The International Peace Bureau is dedicated to the vision of a World Without War. We are a Nobel Peace Laureate (1910), and over the years 13 of our officers have been recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. Our 320 member organisations in 70 countries, and individual members, form a global network which brings together expertise and campaigning experience in a common cause. Our main programme centres on Sustainable Disarmament for Sustainable Development.

For further details, please contact:
(Mr) Colin Archer, Secretary-General
International Peace Bureau
41 rue de Zurich, 1201 Geneva, Switzerland.
Tel: +41-22-731-6429, Fax: 738-9419

Local contact in Berlin:
(Mr) Reiner Braun (IPB Board member)