Sourani Receives France’s National Order of Merit

In a special ceremony organized by the Consulate General of France at the French Cultural Center in Gaza City on Wednesday, 7 July 2021, and with the participation of public figures and representatives of civil society organizations, the French Consul General, Mr. René Troccaz, on behalf of the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, conferred lawyer Raji Sourani, the Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), the rank of Knight (Chevalier) of France’s National Order of Merit.

The National Order of Merit is the highest honor annually awarded by the Republic of France to French and international figures. In a prior letter sent by the Consul General of France to lawyer Sourani, he considered, “this honor as part of your peerless commitment to the service of human rights in Palestine and in gratitude to your courage and freedom of thought.” The Consul General added, “As the Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, you contributed to Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. As a man of peace, you have worked tirelessly in favor of justice and endeavored all efforts to achieve reconciliation.”

The Consul General delivered a speech in the ceremony saying, “The latest crisis and tensions prove that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will remain at the top of the international events and that France took several initiatives to promote the two-state solution and emphasize the basic principles of international law.” Mr. Troccaz added, “I would like to take this opportunity to honor Mr. Raji Sourani, Director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.” He addressed Sourani saying, “Today, you are conferred, as an honor, the rank of Knight (Chevalier) of France’s National Order of Merit in acknowledgement of your dedicated commitment to the service of human rights… Raji Sourani, on behalf of the President of the Republic and by virtue of the authority vested in me, I hereby Knight you with France’s National Order of Merit.”

Mr. Raji Sourani gave a speech thanking France’s support for the International Criminal Court since its inception, and its support for the work of human rights organizations. Sourani pledged to continue working on the prosecution of perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the crime of racial discrimination. Sourani added, “For many years, civilians were in the eye of the storm. It was evident during the latest Israeli military aggression on Gaza -and those that preceded it- that the occupation consciously targets civilians and civilian objects. As human rights organizations, our main concern and allegiance will always be with human dignity and international law, to protect civilians’ rights, dignity, and justice. Lawyer Sourani emphasized that, “The struggle to end the occupation is a right and duty, and the Palestinian cause is not a humanitarian issue, it is first and foremost a political one about ending a historical injustice and restoring the legitimate and inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.

It is a struggle towards establishing a democratic Palestinian state on Palestinian land. No one can steal the hope from our hearts and conscience, we are on the right side of history and we will endeavor to hold war criminals accountable. We will always take the side of rights, justice, and law.”

It should be noted that the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights received the French Republic Award on Human Rights in 1996 by the late French President, Jacques Chirac, in a special ceremony at the Elysée Palace.

PCHR believes that as our Director is granted this high honor, France renews its commitment and support for the Palestinian human rights movement, and the work conducted by PCHR and its partners before the ICC, amidst the continued threats by the Israeli government and its aids who have designed a brutal campaign to defame Palestinian human rights organizations and delegitimize their credibility.

On this occasion, our family at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights offers the sincerest congratulations to Mr. Raji Sourani on this prestigious award that adds to decades of selfless work and dedication for the service of our Palestinian people and just cause.