Photo: Hans Jørgen Brun
Laureate 1997

Ian Hancock

Advocate for the rights and dignity of the Romani

The 1997 Rafto Prize was awarded to Professor Ian Hancock (1942), Romani scholar, linguist and human rights advocate.

He is director of the Program of Romani Studies and the Romani Archives and Documentation Center at the University of Texas at Austin, where he has been a professor of English, linguistics and Asian studies since 1972.

Professor Hancock has for decades used his unique position as a Romani-born, university-educated scholar, to speak and fight for Romani political and civil rights. He has represented the Romani people at the United Nations.

The Romani population, which has been persecuted throughout the centuries, has traditionally had no voice or representation. The Romani people have never obtained basic human rights. In recent years their situation has deteriorated in many countries. So the plight of the Romani people continues to demand serious attention and bold action from authorities around the world.

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Laureate 2016

Yanar Mohammed

Defender of women's rights in war-torn Iraq

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Laureate 2015

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A fearless voice in a violent country

Pavel Chikov
Laureate 2014

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Defender of the rule of law in Russia

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Laureate 2013

Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR)

The inconvenient demand for human rights in the Gulf

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Laureate 2012

Nnimmo Bassey

Defender of victims of climate change

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Laureate 2011

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Defender of LGBTI rights

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Laureate 2010

José Raúl Vera López

Defender of the vulnerable and the rejected

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Laureate 2009

Malahat Nasibova

The brave voice of Nakhchivan

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Laureate 2008

Bulambo Lembelembe Josué

Bringing hope for the victims of war

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Laureate 2007

National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights

Defenders of the downtrodden

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Laureate 2006

Thích Quảng Độ

Peaceful oppositon against the communist regime

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Laureate 2005

Lidia Yusupova

Defender of the forgotten victims of the war in Chechnya

Rebiya Kadeer
Laureate 2004

Rebiya Kadeer

Defender of the repressed Uyghurs

Paulos Tesfagiorgis
Laureate 2003

Paulos Tesfagiorgis

Lifelong work for democracy in Eritrea

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Laureate 2002

Sidi Mohammed Daddach

The Sahrawi people's struggle for self determination

Shirin Ebadi
Laureate 2001

Shirin Ebadi

Rights for women and children under the Islamic regime

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Laureate 2000

Kim Dae-jung

Giving hope of re-conciliation with North Korea

Gennady Grushevoy
Laureate 1999

Gennady Grushevoy

Protecting the victims of the Chernobyl disaster

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Laureate 1998

ECPAT

Committed to ending commercial sexual exploitation of children

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Laureate 1996

Palermo Anno Uno

Standing up against the Mafia and organized crime

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Laureate 1995

Committee of Soldiers' Mothers of Russia

Working for peace on behalf of those forced to wage war

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Laureate 1994

Leyla Zana

Peaceful struggle for the human rights of the Kurdish people

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Laureate 1993

José Ramos-Horta

Promoting independence for the people of East Timor

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Laureate 1992

Preah Maha Ghosananda

Leading role in reconciling a country torn by war

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Laureate 1991

Yelena Bonner

Lifelong work for political and religious freedom in the Soviet Union

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Laureate 1990

Aung San Suu Kyi

Leading the struggle for democracy in Burma

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Laureate 1989

Doina Cornea

Writing for freedom in a communist dictatorship

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Laureate 1989

FIDESZ - Péter Molnár

Founders of a democratic Hungary

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Laureate 1988

Trivimi Velliste

Reviving the past to liberate the future

Jiri-Hajek
Laureate 1987

Jiří Hájek

Foreign Affairs Minister of the Prague Spring and brave spokesperson for civil rights