October 6, 2011 – The Washington Oxi Day Foundation announced today that the first recipient of the annual Oxi Day Award will be Tunisian activist Jamel Bettaieb. He will be receive this award on behalf of the people of the town of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, the birthplace of the historic Arab Spring.
Jamel and the people of Sidi Bouzid will be honored for the great courage they showed – in the spirit of Oxi Day – to promote democracy and freedom. The courage of the young people in this small town lit the spark that ignited Tunisia’s revolution, which led to the overthrow of Tunisian dictator Zine Ben Ali, and began a wave of revolutions that swept through the Arab world.
The Oxi Day Award is inspired by the David vs. Goliath story of Greece’s actions during World War II and the incredible courage displayed by the Greek people. The Greeks inflicted a fatal wound on Hitler’s forces at a crucial moment in WWII and inspired the world with their bravery and courage.
This award will be presented at the Washington Oxi Day Celebration black tie dinner on Thursday, October 27 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, DC before hundreds of America’s top policy makers and opinion leaders. Participants will include policymakers from the White House, State Department, Defense Department, US Congress, top US think tanks and human rights groups, leaders and Ambassadors from numerous countries involved in WWII, as well as Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America Demetrios along with Greek-American leaders from across the country and WWII veterans. The Master of Ceremonies will be one of America’s most far-reaching television journalists and authorChris Matthews.
Also presented on this evening will be the annual Oxi Day Battle of Crete Award, which will honor a woman who took courageous action to protect and promote freedom and democracy. The recipient will be announced shortly.
Bettaieb, who was born in Sidi Bouzid, is an active member of the recent Tunisian protest movement, a teacher and trade unionist. He participated in and witnessed the events that would make history in his country and reverberate around the world. He was recently invited to the Oval Office to meet with President Barack Obama and was honored with the Democracy Award by the National Endowment for Democracy. Bettaieb was nominated for the Oxi Day Award by the National Democratic Institute and the National Endowment for Democracy.
Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia is considered by many to be the birthplace of the Arab Spring. It was here, in this little – known town of 40,000, where Mohammed Mouazizi, an unemployed fruit vendor burned himself to death after being humiliated by the police. His desperate act sparked a popular uprising in the country, which led to the overthrow of Tunisian dictator Zine Ben Ali, who had ruthlessly ruled for 23 years.
The actions of Sidi Bouzid and Tunisian activists like Bettaieb and Mouazizi inspired and facilitated similar uprisings all across North Africa and the Arab world, which came to be known as the Arab Spring.
60 Minutes recently broadcast a segment on the role of Sidi Bouzid as the birthplace of the Arab Spring, which can be viewed here www.cbsnews.com
For more information about the event and the Washington Oxi Day Foundation, visit www.OxiDayFoundation.org
This important activity in Washington, DC is being made possible by the generous support of the following individuals and organizations: