Civil Courage Prize
for steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk

2000 Honoree

Natasa Kandic
Persecuted journalist and activist, Belgrade

In May of 2005 Ms. Kandic released an explosive 1995 tape of killings by Serbian security forces in Srebrenica.  The tape refuted Serbian denials that the killings in Srebrenica happened, and forced the government to react to the issue of war crimes.

Sergei Khodorovich - Honorable Mention
Long-time colleague of Solzhenitsyn, exiled to hard labor in Siberia

Natasa Kandic is the founder and Executive Director of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) in Belgrade. Since 1990 she has pursued the facts surrounding both civil and criminal human rights abuses against repressed minorities throughout the former Yugoslavia. Since founding HLC in 1992, she has earned a reputation for accurate and unflinching reporting of war crimes. Throughout the 1990 wars in Balkans, she was the subject of repeated threats, harassment and harsh physical assault.

Ms. Kandic has researched killings, disappearances, torture of prisoners of war, and the patterns of ethnic cleansing in times of armed conflict by interviewing witnesses and victims. Upon collecting a large body of documentation on war crimes, the HLC in August 1994 began cooperating with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague. And, as of June 1999, it has been cooperating also with Prosecutor's Offices in Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo, providing them with information and expert assistance with regard to war crimes trials. Ms. Kandic and her Center strongly advocate regional reconciliation through reconciliation with history, taking of responsibility for the crimes committed in the recent past, and restoring the human dignity of the victims whatever their ethnicity.

In May 1992 Natasa Kandic was an organizer of a protest against the suffering of civilians in Sarajevo. Some 150,000 persons took part, carrying an almost mile-long ribbon through downtown Belgrade.

At a time when the Serbian Radical Party was promulgating lists of Croats who were to be forcibly put out of Vojvodina, Natasa Kandic organized forums in the same villages to demand that the authorities take effective measures to protect the province's minorities.

When the Serbian public supported the suppression of Kosovo's autonomy, Natasa Kandic and her associates published Kosovski Cvor to correct the picture of the situation in Kosovo being presented to the Serbian public. Although accepted in Kosovo, the book was spurned in Serbia.

The Humanitarian Law Center presented a report to the Serbian parliament on police repression against Muslim Slavs. On behalf of Serb refugees, who were taken to war zones in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia to be incorporated into the Bosnian Serb and Croatian Serb armies, the HLC filed a legal action against the state of Serbia. Surprisingly, the court found Serbia accountable for violating the basic rights of those refugees. This verdict encouraged hundreds of refugees to turn to the HLC for assistance in filing legal actions.

During the NATO campaign, Natasa Kandic frequently visited Kosovo and spoke on Radio Free Europe, the BBC, Deutsche Welle and the Voice of America. Her reports were published extensively in the foreign media.

Before founding the Humanitarian Law Center in 1992, Natasa Kandic was a leading activist in the peace movement. Her first campaign was Candles for Peace, which took place nightly from October 8, 1991 to February 8, 1993 outside the Serbian Presidency building. The names of those killed in the war were read out, regardless of ethnicity, and candles lit in their memory. Natasa Kandic was one of the publishers of the first anti-war book in Serbia, A Grave for Miroslav Milenkovic. More recently, she was the principal initiator of a petition against the conscription of Serbian citizens for the war in the territory of Croatia and for a referendum on the issue. Among the 78,000 signatures collected was that of Cyrus Vance, then a UN envoy in Yugoslavia.

Natasa Kandic was born in 1946. She received a B.A. in Sociology in 1972; from 1974 to 1979 she was a researcher and analyst in housing and related problems for the Belgrade Trade Union Organization. She is a recipient of, among others, the Human Rights Watch Award (1993), the Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights Award (1999), and the National Endowment for Democracy Award (2000, with Veton Suroi). In 2002, she received the award of the Human Rights Committee in Leskovac (Serbia), and on 28 May 2003 the Tutin Municipality Plaque for her ten-year efforts for the promotion of human rights in the Sandzak region. Her name was also on Time magazine's list of 36 European Heroes in 2003.

Since receiving The Civil Courage Prize, she has continued compiling and distributing voluminous and well regarded investigative reports on the violent abuses perpetrated by all sides of the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

For more information, please visit the Humanitarian Law Center.

Sergei Khodorovich Honorable Mention

Sergei Khodorovich served as representative of the Russian Social Fund, created by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to aid the families of Russian dissidents imprisoned under the Soviet regime. Helping the families of prisoners of conscience to stay alive was declared an act of treason by the Soviets.

Having seized and broken his predecessor, the KGB arrested Mr. Khodorovich in 1983. He refused to "confess" that the Fund was engaged in anti-state machinations and was sentenced to a particularly rigorous regime of hard labor in Siberia.

Amnestied by Gorbachev after four years, he was exiled and now lives in France.


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2000 Honoree
  press release
  Kandic letter
  Howard remarks

Natasa Kandic, Year 2000 Honoree, persecuted journalist and activist in the Balkans with the Honorable John Train (left) and Sir Michael Howard (right) at the presentation ceremony.

Former Yugoslavia.



© Civil Courage Prize