Democracy Award 2012
The Democracy Award of the Margaretha Lupac foundation this year was awarded for the fifth time. The winners are Barbara Helige, first female president of the Vereinigung österreichischer RichterInnen (Austrian Association of Judges), the youth platform and youth initiative "Zukunftsforum Windhaag" ("Future Forum Windhaag"), which aims to encourage young people to actively deal with global social developments, and to the Mauthausen Komitee Österreich (Mauthausen Committee Austria).
Barbara Helige was the first woman to chair the Austrian Association of Judges. In this office she always advocated the strengthening of democracy, defended the rule of law as a pillar of democratic order and highlighted the separation of powers. Besides the external independence she appealed to the internal independence and impartiality of judges. She contributed to the development of ethical principles of judicial work which are subsumed in the "Welser Erklärung" (Declaration of Wels). In civil society she committed herself – to point out just a few initiatives – as president of the Österreichische Liga für Menschenrechte (Austrain League for Human Rights), as chairwoman of the Wilhelminenbergkommission to resolve incidents in the former children’s home, and in the council for ethics in public relations.
Founded in 2008, the youth platform and youth initiative "Zukunftsforum Windhaag" gives young people the chance to actively deal with social developments and a future worth living in a local and global context. Therefore government parties’ representatives from provincial, federal and European politics are invited to join the political discourse. It is about the political dialogue, dealing with the tools of democracy, codetermination, grass-root democratic decisions; the training in tolerance, communication, cooperation, creative and intermediation techniques and not least the empowerment of and for young people to critically commit themselves. The goal of the initiative is to become an acknowledged partner for questions concerning the future and to become a forum of discussion and of shaping the future for the young. Projects include i.e. the youth symposium "StadtLand – Tanz der Polaritäten" (CityCountryside – Dance of Polarities) or events concerning "Energie – Klima – Kostengerechtigkeit" (Energy – Climate – Equity of Costs) and "Jugend – Macht – Demokratie" (Youth – Power – Democracy).
The Mauthausen Komitee Österreich’s work focuses on the remembrance of the victims of National Socialism, especially of the inmates of concentration camp Mauthausen and its satellite camps. Emerged in 1997 from the "Lagergemeinschaft Mauthausen" (Camp Alliance Mauthausen), it defines itself as non-partisan and interdenominational and advocates a free and democratic society as well as the protection of human rights for everybody. The dedicated anti-fascist and anti-racist work with young people is a focus of the organisation’s manifold activities. Mauthausen Guides accompany young people on 22 locations of former satellite camps to utilise these memorial sites as "learning sites". Offers to strengthen moral courage, initiatives encouraging to discuss and learn about racism, field excursions and much more could reach about 30.000 young people in the past three years.