News Local Cyprus-based NGO named 2016 Max van der Stoel Award winner

Cyprus-based NGO named 2016 Max van der Stoel Award winner

The Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR), a Cyprus-based non-governmental organisation, has been named the winner of the 2016 Max van der Stoel Award.
The international jury, led by OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Astrid Thors, stated: “The Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) from Cyprus is a non-governmental organisation that is bi-communal both in terms of its focus area and its staff.
“Throughout the last 13 years, AHDR demonstrated sustained commitment to building a multilingual and multi-faith society which celebrates diversity and promotes mutual respect and understanding.”
AHDR was established in 2003 by a group of history educators and researchers dedicated to the advancement of historical understanding and critical thinking amongst the public and, more specifically, amongst pupils, educators and civil society.
“This initiative took place at a time of historic change: on April 23, 2003, travel restrictions between the two sides of the Green Line in Cyprus were relaxed and several thousand Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots had their first chance since 1974 to cross the divide,” added the OSCE statement.
“Such a context provided а renewed impetus for AHDR to further develop new ways to understand the past with an emphasis on multi-perspectivity.”
OSCE added: “For AHDR, controversial issues should not be avoided but rather approached in a critical and empathetic way. In order to do so, AHDR provides access to learning opportunities for individuals from different ethnic, religious, cultural and social backgrounds including  teacher training sessions, cultural excursions, seminars and conferences.
“It developed a range of supplementary teaching materials in order to help, among other things, to address the legacies of a violent past.”
Since its foundation in 2003, the aim of AHDR is to contribute to the advancement of historical understanding in Cyprus amongst the public and educators, regardless of ethnic, religious, cultural or social background, by providing access to learning opportunities based on respect for diversity and the dialogue of ideas.  
The Max van der Stoel Award is scheduled to be presented to the winner on October 24, 2016 during a ceremony in The Hague.
Cyprus has been divided by Turkish troops since 1974 which invaded and illegally occupied 37 per cent of the island.