Afghan girls’ education activist honored

JAMESTOWN – On Aug. 25, the Joshua Heintz Award for Humanitarian Achievement was bestowed on Afghan Girls’ Education Activist Shabana Basij Rasikh at the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown.

The ceremony was held at a dinner that kicked off the Jackson Center’s 7th Annual International Humanitarian Law Dialogs, hosted at the Chautauqua Institution on August 25-27. The Dialogs help advance the work of Robert H. Jackson and the Nuremberg Trials as the genesis of modern international criminal law. Accepting the award on Basij Rasikh’s behalf was Gail Buerger Kerr of Chautauqua,.

Shabana Basij-Rasikh was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. Under the Taliban, she dressed as a boy to escort her older sister to a secret school – with dire consequences if they were caught. She attended a high school in America under the YES exchange program, and graduated from Middlebury College in Vermont. During college, she founded HELA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Afghan women through education. She is also managing director of SOLA (School of Leadership, Afghanistan), a nonprofit that helps exceptional young Afghan women access education worldwide and jobs back home.

The Joshua Heintz Award for Humanitarian Achievement’s benefactor is Joshua Heintz of Syracuse. A retired attorney, Heintz is passionate about creating avenues for institutions of higher education to serve the community at large. He was a principal figure in the creation of the Syracuse University College of Law’s internationally recognized Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism. Heintz also serves on the Board of Trustees at Syracuse University and is on the Board of Directors of the Robert H. Jackson Center.

The inscription made on the crystal obelisk presented by Joshua Heintz honored Bassiouni as “A compassionate visionary dedicated to the pursuit of justice who leaves a legacy in international humanitarian law.”

The Robert H. Jackson Center’s mission is to advance the legacy of Robert H. Jackson – U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Chief U.S. Prosecutor of the major Nazi war criminals following WWII at the International Military Tribunal trial at Nuremberg – through education and exhibits, and by pursuing the relevance of his ideas for future generations.

The Center is located at 305 E. Fourth St., Jamestown. Tours are available from 10 a.m. 2 p.m., MondaySaturday, or by appointment. E-mail or visit for additional information, or contact the Robert H. Jackson Center directly at 483-6646.