The first Council of Europe Raoul Wallenberg Prize was awarded Friday to Elmas Arus, a young Romani film director from Turkey, during a ceremony in Strasbourg. The prize recognizes Arus' outstanding contributions to raising awareness of the conditions of Romani people in Turkey and elsewhere.
Between 2001 and 2010, Arus and a group of volunteers visited more than 400 Romani neighborhoods in 38 cities in Turkey. They produced 360 hours of film, from which she created an hour-long documentary on the challenges faced by the different Romani groups in Turkey. Afterward, Arus established the “Zero Discrimination” Organisation, which has paved the way for similar groups: There are now over 200 Romani associations in Turkey. Her work also played a crucial role in shaping the Turkish government's "Romani opening" policy of 2009.
The prize is named after of Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who rescued tens of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust.