Milestones

Important events in the Rafto Foundation's history.

  • 1986: Professor Thorolf Rafto dies tragically on 4. November. Friends and colleagues agree to establish a foundation that would continue Rafto’s work.  
  • 1987-1989: The first prizes are given to four human rights defenders in Eastern Europe; Jiri Hajek, Trivimi Velliste, Doina Cornea og Fidez by Peter Molnar. 
  • 1990: The geographical mandate expands, and this year Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma,  receives the Rafto Prize while she is under house arrest. 
  • 1991: Aung San Suu Kyi receives the Nobel Peace Prize. As a consequence, the Rafto Foundation is given more national and international attention. The first Rafto Foundation student group is established this year. 
  • 1996: 10th anniversary. The 1996 Rafto Laureate  is Jose Ramos Horta, East Timor, who later this year receives the Nobel Peace Prize. 
  • 1997: Egil Rafto, son of Thorolf Rafto and board member of the Rafto Foundation, dies only 45 years old. The Egil Rafto House Foundation is established. 
  • 1998: The Friends of the Rafto House is established. 
  • 1999: The Rafto House has its official opening by Bergen city Major Anne Grete-Strøm Erichsen and Kim Aris, son of Aung San Suu Kyi. Aris reads a speech made by Suu Kyi, which was smuggled out of Burma. The Rafto House gets a new address; Menneskerettighetenes plass 1 (Human Rights Square No. 1), and Suu Kyi is the House’s Protector.
  • 2000-2001: Laureates Kim Dae Jung and Shirin Ebadi receives the Rafto Prize, both will later receive the Nobel Peace Prize. 
  • 2005: The Foundation arranges the Award Ceremony for Rebyia Kadeer at Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. The same year she is released from prison. 
  • 2008: The activities at the Rafto Foundation and the Rafto House Foundation are organized under The Rafto Foundation, with its own administration and a Prize Committee.  
  • 2011: Opening of the "Human rights tank" (Rettighetstanken), a classroom for human rights education in Bergen. 
  • 2012: Aung San Suu Kyi visits Bergen for the first time. 20.000 people gather at Torgallmenningen to hear to her speech (image above). 
  • 2013: The Women’s Network was established on the initiative of Rebiya Kadeer, Shirin Ebadi, Malahat Nasibova and Maryam al-Khawaja.
  • 2016: The Rafto Foundation celebrates its 30th Anniversary with 18 Rafto Laureates present in Bergen.