The American Human Rights Council (AHRC-USA) is pleased to announce its 2017 “Spirit of Humanity” Gala Awardees. This year’s awardees are highly admired organizations and individuals diligently working to advance and protect human rights, and to alleviate human suffering. AHRC-USA is proud to honor these esteemed organizations and individuals dedicated to upholding human rights and social justice.
Professor Mads Gilbert, MD, PhD
Mads Gilbert MD is a Norwegian anaesthesiologist and Medical Director for Clinic of Emergency Medicine at the University Hospital of North-Norway and professor at The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø – the northernmost university in the world. He takes special interest in emergency medicine, hypothermia and in organizing and training prehospital emergency medical care system in rural, remote areas in sub-Arctic Norway as well as in rural communities in the global South and in conflict zones.
Gilbert has broad range of experience with international medical solidarity from locations merging clinical and health politic issues (Burma, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Angola, Palestine). Since 1981 he has done consecutive solidarity medical missions for the Palestinians, and he served in Gaza hospitals during the Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2006, -2009, 2012 and 2014. He is also doing medical research on the effects on the Israeli military attacks and the siege of Gaza.
He has co-authored a number of medical papers, book chapters in addition to two documentary books on the medical conditions in Gaza during Israeli attacks; “Eyes in Gaza” (2009, 2nd Ed 2013) and “Night in Gaza” (2015). Dr. Gilbert has done extensive field work and research in alternative medical educational models and developed “The Village University” concept, a described in the practical textbook “Save Lives Save Limbs” (Third World Network, Malaysia 2000). In 2013, the Norwegian King Harald V appointed him as a Commander of the Order of St. Olav for his “wide-ranging services to emergency medicine nationally and internationally”.
He has appeared on international media such as BBC ‘Hard Talk’, ‘Talk to Al Jazeera’, AlJaz+ and given testimonies to The Russell Tribunal on Gaza 2014 and numerous UN commissions.
Ms. Zainab Zeb Khan
Zainab is the President of MALA (Muslim American Leadership Alliance). She is a therapist, painter, and human rights advocate. Born in the U.S. to Asian immigrants, she became an activist after eye-opening experiences in counseling survivors of domestic violence and organizing exhibitions for artists facing repression. A former Senior Clinician holding a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, Zainab also co-curated the International Museum of Women’s Exhibition “Muslimah: Muslim Women’s Arts and Voices” and served as a United Nations Association delegate to the 59th Commission on the Status of Women. The YWCA Chicago gave her its 2014 Racial & Social Justice Award.
Zainab has been published in The Daily Beast about young Muslim-Americans’ struggles with bigotry; written about gender-based violence for No Ceilings; featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine; and appeared in the documentary Honor Diaries. She gave a notable TEDx talk, “How to Fight Injustice Without Saying a Word”. Zainab is honored as a “Global Hero” for Safe Magazine’s 2015 issue, and is recognized as one of Fortune Magazine’s 2015 Most Powerful Women Next Gen. Zainab was honored by Aga Khan University’s Muslim Woman of Peace for 2015. She coordinates the “Muslim American Journeys” project with NPR’s StoryCorps. She was also a featured speaker at the Conference of World Affairs 2016. Zainab is the recipient of UNICEF’s Inaugural Humanitarian Award for 2016.
Dr. Seema Jilani
Dr. Seema is a medical doctor who completed her medical school and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. It was during medical school that Dr. Seema took her first trip to Israel/Palestine, including the Gaza Strip.
Dr. Jilani worked in Palestinian refugee camps in Shatila Camp on the outskirts of Beirut and in one of Cairo’s poorest hospitals, caring for pediatric patients there. In 2010, she volunteered for CURE International Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan, and treated pediatric patients who were devastatingly underserved and very economically deprived. They suffered from malnutrition, rare diseases, and of course, PTSD from the long-standing war there. She returned in 2011 to Afghanistan and worked in the country’s only Pediatric ICU, caring for young critically ill children there. Subsequently, Dr. Seema traveled with a group of congenital heart physicians to Najaf, Iraq in 2013 and cared for pediatric patients with congenital heart disease there.
Dr. Jilani has also worked extensively in Bosnia and the Balkans at large, reporting on the genocide of Bosnian Muslims, and interviewing survivors of the Srebrenica massacre and the war at large in the 1990s in Bosnia. The Bosnian conflict is one that is very close to her heart and a tragic one indeed. she also worked in Nepal, helping to see patients and repair schools there for children.
In 2016, the U.S. State Department selected Dr. Seema Jilani as a Senior Fulbright Scholar to Istanbul, Turkey. While there she taught Turkish, Iraqi and Syrian medical students in Istanbul how to advocate in the media for their patients’ human rights.
Mr. Abdallah Sheik, Owner of Captain Jay’s Restaurants Enterprise
Mr. Abdallah Sheik is a seasoned business owner and community leader. Mr. Sheik is a silent community hero and has devoted his time and resources to supporting causes within the community to advance and promote human rights and human dignity. Born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1964,
Mr. Sheik first came to the United States in 1985 to attend college. He graduated with a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Engineering in 1992. Mr. Sheik served as the Director of Information Technology for Giordano’s Pizza in Chicago, Illinois from 1995-2000. He also served as the Chief Information Officer for Church’s Chicken’s largest Franchisee Falcon Holdings. Mr. Sheik continues to be a leader in business and entrepreneurship. In 2004, he founded Captain Jay’s Enterprises (a chain of fish and chicken markets) and he also serves as its CEO.
Mr. Sheik is also the Founder and CEO of BTI Telecommunication, Inc., as well as the Founder and President of Megamed USA, a pharmaceutical research company. Mr. Sheik is also very involved in community based organizations. He is the Co-Founder and member of the American Muslim Leadership Council (AMLC), and Co-Founder and President of the Arab and Muslim Political Action Committee (AMPAC). Mr. Abdallah is also a member of the American Human Rights Council (AHRC-USA) and a member of the Almezan Media Group.