Dr Amani: Speech

Raoul Wallenberg Prize Ceremony: Council of Europe

Friday 17th January, 2020, 4pm

Today, we honour and remember the achievements of Raoul Wallenberg who saved tens of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust, armed only with his bravery and moral conviction. His actions show that one person's courage and choices can truly make a difference, offering inspiration to us all to speak out and indeed to act against persecution, xenophobia and anti-Semitism.

        What makes an individual commit great acts for the good of humanity?

        Is it our love for people and the gift of life?

        Do people like Mr Wallenberg’s tremendous actions first start with grand dreams or by the simple priority to protect and better another single life?

He was seen to be taking a major risk due to continuing his humanitarian work. His reply was: ”To me there’s no other choice. I’ve accepted this assignment and I could never return to Stockholm without the knowledge that I’d done everything in human power to save as many Jews as possible.” And he continued doing so until he himself was captured.

Human power and human choice. Many people feel they have much of both, yet many don’t.

Some feel powerless or choose to turn their eyes away from something wrong, some stare in disbelief, and some choose the powerful act to save…

In Syria, we face a similar situation.

For me to be here today is an incredible honour and a testimony that innocent Syrian people must not, AND are not, being forgotten. I want to start by thanking the Jury of the prize, the Council of Europe and her Excellency, Secretary General Pejčinović Burić, Hungary and Sweden for sponsoring the prize, France and Turkey for their incredible commitment in bringing me here today to accept this special prize…

Last but not least, I would like to thank the entire secretariat for your generous support.

All of you have brought the reality of The Cave hospital, my personal truth, and the incredible work all Syrian medical teams to a European and Global audience.

We were trapped in eastern Ghouta, in the countryside of Damascus, for more than five years.

We saw thousands of brutal massacres against civilians and children.

In one night alone, internationally prohibited chemical weapons were available and chosen to be used and killed more than 1,000 people, most of them were children. They were already starving because of the siege and sound asleep.

On that night, thousands of innocent sons and daughters inhaled the poisonous gas and suffocated in front of our eyes.

We did not have enough medicine or medical supplies, and we were only a few doctors and some volunteers. We tried to work with all our strength, we tried to save everyone, we tried to save as many as possible, but couldn’t do enough. We saw many hungry children who lost their families and their homes were destroyed by the bombing.

We treated thousands of sick and wounded people as a result of the bombing.

We saw a lot of serious injuries. We saw children who had amputated hands and legs. They were always asking us: Why did this happen?? And we stood, unable to answer.

These massacres and crimes are still ongoing in Syria, and millions of civilians are suffering in the camps, with no access to the minimum essentials of life.

There are thousands of detainees in the prisons of the Assad regime and they have been tortured brutally for years.

There are hundreds of thousands of civilians who are oppressed under the control of the regime and lack all their rights.

More than half of the Syrian people are displaced from their homes inside and outside Syria.

Many innocent people died drowning during the asylum journey in desperate search of safety.

Now in the year 2020, still for nine years, the world has been watching the suffering of Syrians and other innocent people around the world without doing anything to protect them, still without answers.

Criminals are still at large and continue to criminalize them, ignoring all international laws and standards.

The international community absolutely must play its role and find effective mechanisms to protect civilians, women and children around the world and preserve their human rights and human dignity.

If we raise awareness of these people, like Mr. Raoul Wallenberg, and their efforts to stop this inhumanity through individual and collective moral duty and choice, others will contribute by doing the same.

Wallenberg’s humanitarian achievements live on, a continuing reminder that every individual has a responsibility in the fight against racism and acts of inhumanity. They show the importance of personal courage and of taking a stand – because one individual really can make a difference.

Before I close this acceptance, I would like to thank Feras Fayyad, a fellow Syrian for his courage, bravery and talent in bringing my story and that of the Syrian people to the world through the film and for the support I have received from Danish Documentary and National Geographic.

Today is an historic moment where all of us stand together and show that when we truly care about each other and believe in humanity, the world will be a great place to live in for each and every one of us.