OSLO, Norway (AP) — Members of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, which helped build democracy in the violence-torn country after the 2011 revolution, collected the Nobel Peace Prize in the Norway’s capital on Thursday.
This year’s award was picked up at a ceremony in Oslo City Hall by members of four organizations, representing unions, industry, trade and human rights. The quartet is made up of four key groups: The Tunisian General Labor Union; the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts; the Tunisian Human Rights League; and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers, the country’s bar association.
Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairwoman Kaci Kullmann Five cited the group for “its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy” following Tunisia’s 2011 revolution that overthrew its long-time authoritarian president.
The gold medals and diplomas were picked up by Houcine Abassi, the labor union leader; Mohammed Fadhel Mafoudh, head of the bar association; Abdessatar Ben Moussa, president of the human rights group and Wided Bouchamaoui, the head of the employers’ association.
Addressing the audience of 1,000 people, including royalty, government members and foreign dignitaries, Kullmann Five described as “dramatic” the narrative behind this year’s peace prize. “It speaks to the core of Alfred Nobel’s will and Nobel’s vision of fraternity, disarmament and peace-building forums,” she said. “Against a backdrop of unrest and war … (their) resolute intervention helped to halt the spiraling violence and put developments on a peaceful track,” after the summer of 2013 when Tunisia was on the brink of civil war.
She said the 8 million Swedish kronor ($960,000) prize was for the quartet as a whole, not for the four individual organizations. All four prize winners took turns at addressing the gathering in the traditional peace laureates’ speech.
According to an English translation of the remarks in Arabic, Abassi expressed their sorrow and anger at the “terrorist acts” that had killed and injured hundreds. This year, two major attacks on tourists in Tunisia killed 22 people at the Bardo Museum in the capital, Tunis, and 38 at a resort near Sousse.
He said their “feeling of euphoria and pride does not obscure the grief sorrow and anger” they feel about recent violent events, including “Sousse, the Bardo Museum, Beirut, Paris, Sharm el-Sheikh and Bamako (with) scenes of barbaric and heinous terrorist acts.”
The peace award was the first of the Nobel prizes to be presented on Thursday. Later, the prizes in medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and the Nobel Memorial Prize in economic sciences, are to be handed out to the winners in the Swedish capital, Stockholm.
Police in the two countries had increased the already tight security surrounding the events since the Paris attacks, but gave no details. Last year, when prize winners Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi were receiving their award, a Mexican student ran onto the stage waving his country’s flag, which he had smuggled into the heavily guarded ceremony without an official invitation. The young man, who had applied for asylum in Norway, was quickly whisked away by a guard.