The Freedom of Expression Tribute is being awarded to the physicians Erik Fosse and Mads Gilbert for their outstanding, unflagging eye witness accounts of the suffering sustained by the civilian population during the bombing of Gaza.
Erik Fosse and Mads Gilbert provided vivid details to western and Arab journalists about the impact of the bombing of Gaza during first 10 days of 2009. They reported on what they saw with their own eyes at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, based on their medical experience. Their first-hand accounts and their medical efforts were motivated by their strong commitment to the civilian population.
The humanitarian organisation Norwac (The Norwegian Aid Committee) decided to send them to Gaza on 28 December 2008. Erik Fosse and Mads Gilbert, both physicians who work for Norwac, crossed the border on 31 December 2008. For several days, they were the only western witnesses to the events that unfolded. Other health care workers began to enter the area on 8 January 2009, and Fosse and Gilbert left Gaza on 10 January 2009.
Fosse and Gilbert both have long experience of providing medical services in war-torn areas and conflict zones in the Balkans and the Middle East. They have worked in Gaza on several occasions over the past 20 years.
Otherwise, Erik Fosse is a professor and chief physician at the Intervention Centre at Rikshospitalet, the National Hospital, University of Oslo. He is also the director of Norwac. Mads Gilbert is a professor, department manager and senior medical officer at the Emergency Medical Treatment Ward at University Hospital Northern Norway in Tromsø.
Fosse and Gilbert are currently writing a book about the events that took place in Gaza. It will be published in Norwegian, English and Arabic in autumn 2009.
The tributes will be awarded to them on Tuesday, 24 February 2009, at 11 a.m. in Institusjonen Fritt Ord's premises at Uranienborgveien 2, Oslo. The Freedom of Expression Tribute acknowledges remarkable efforts to promote free speech, often in connection with current events. The tribute is accompanied by a crystal vase and NOK 50 000 to each winner.