For Immediate Release
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) honored Turkish human rights defender Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı and philanthropist and publisher Sigrid Rausing at the organization’s gala in New York City last night. PHR also used the occasion to announce an $8 million challenge gift from the Open Society Foundations and the launch of a $24 million fundraising campaign. George Soros, founder and chairman of OSF, and OSF’s president Chris Stone attended the gala to join PHR in making the announcement.
“When I was told that PHR is embarking on an ambitious, four-year campaign to raise $24 million dollars to bring many more health and scientific professionals from all over the world into the human rights movement, I was excited and wanted to put our Foundation’s support behind this,” said OSF’s Chris Stone. “We believe in the vision of the organization and the leadership to carry it out. And we believe that this is the right time to make this investment. I ask you to help PHR in this crucial work.”
“The foundation’s challenge is an incredible opportunity for us – and we’re ready and excited to take it on,” said PHR’s executive director Donna McKay. “These days it can seem as if the world is spinning out of control. Amid chaos, we can keep our footing by holding on to what is solid and tangible. At PHR, we hold fast to facts – the cold, hard, unimpeachable truth that results from painstaking investigation and scientific documentation.”
As part of the evening’s event, PHR presented its annual award to Dr. Şebnem Korur Fincancı, a longtime partner of PHR’s and president of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey. Last year, she was arrested on terror-related charges for taking part in a free speech campaign supporting a newspaper critical of the Turkish government. Throughout her career, Dr. Fincancı has been a leader in fighting torture and impunity in Turkey and around the world. Alongside PHR, she was one of the co-authors of the Istanbul Protocol, considered the global standard in documenting torture and ill-treatment.
“For well over two decades, I’ve worked with PHR and traveled to every continent except Antarctica, making sure that health professionals understand how to collect evidence to combat violence and particularly torture,” said Dr. Fincancı. “But just finding the evidence isn’t enough. We have to present that evidence. We have to ensure that evidence can be used to achieve justice. We have to demand accountability for the past – but also set an example to future perpetrators that they cannot cover their tracks.”
PHR also gave its yearly prize to Sigrid Rausing, a British publisher and philanthropist who since 1995 has been a major global defender of human rights, supporting hundreds of organizations across six continents through the Sigrid Rausing Trust. Passionate about women’s and LGBTI rights, transitional justice, and free expression, and dedicated to combatting xenophobia and intolerance, unlawful detention and torture, Rausing was one of the earliest and strongest supporters of PHR’s work to end impunity for sexual violence.
“Sigrid cares deeply about the individual advocates who take on the enormous challenge of protecting the vulnerable, demanding fairness, calling out discrimination, and protecting dissent,” said Justice Richard J. Goldstone, a member of PHR’s board and former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. “She has confidence in grantees like PHR to do this difficult work. And she’s not looking for quick results. She recognizes the relentless nature of the problems PHR addresses, and keeps our focus on long-term impact and meaningful and sustainable change.”
Proceeds from the gala, held at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall in New York City, will support PHR’s work to ensure that mass atrocities and severe human rights violations are investigated and documented, and that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is a New York-based advocacy organization that uses science and medicine to prevent mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. Learn more here.