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Sevdie Ahmeti, a 56-year-old Albanian Kosovar who has risked her life helping women and children war victims in Kosovo, has been chosen as the 2001 Oak Human Rights Fellow by the Oak Institute for the Study of International Human Rights at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Ahmeti will arrive at Colby in August and will remain on campus for the fall semester.
A librarian with training in library science, Ahmeti has worked on behalf of war victims for 14 years and founded the Center for the Protection of Women and Children in Prishtine in 1993. The Center, of which she is currently executive director, now operates nine branches. Highly regarded by human rights practitioners familiar with her work, Ahmeti has worked tirelessly to document hundreds of human rights abuses in Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia. She has published extensively and worked with regional and international organizations and networks to protect human rights across ethnic lines. While her courageous work has focused on protection, rehabilitation and documentation of ethnic Albanian women and children who are victims of rape, torture and enslavement, she does not discriminate based on ethnic origin and has arranged treatment for many other human-rights victims as well. Crimes documented by Ahmeti and her colleagues have been used as evidence by the International Criminal Tribunal on Former Yugoslavia in The Hague.
Because of her outstanding record, Human Rights Watch chose Ahmeti as one of four Human Rights Monitors for 1999. At Colby Ahmeti will teach about her work in women’s rights and human rights and will share her on-the-ground perspective on human rights and civil war in the former Yugoslavia.
Ahmeti is the fourth Oak Human Rights fellow, following human rights activists who had risked their lives on behalf of child laborers in Pakistan, civil society in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and indigenous and peasant groups in Colombia.
This was the first Oak Human Rights Fellow search targeted to a particular theme, Gender and International Human Rights, and Ahmeti was selected from among 88 applicants. The one-semester fellowship was established by a grant to Colby College from the Oak Foundation to allow a front-line human rights practitioner to take a sabbatical for research, writing and teaching as a scholar-in-residence at Colby. In addition to the fellowship, the Oak Institute supports human right lectures and other programs on the campus. Ahmeti will be joined at Colby by her husband, Sebahudin Ahmeti.