Still imprisoned in Ashqelon prison, Israel, nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu will be created Doctor Honoris Causa at Tromsoe University, the world´s northern-most university in a ceremony on May 15.
Announcing the decision, the University President, Tove Bull, stated that the doctorate was awarded for Vanunu´s effort for world peace.
"Some may wish to criticise us for giving this honor to a man convicted for treason. We feel that his loyalty was pulled in two directions - loyalty to his own state and loyalty to mankind. He chose the latter, and we think he did right", said Ms. Bull, adding that the decision also was to underline the freedom of speech and the need to struggle against nuclear weapons.
In a statement former prime minister of Norway Kaare Willoch praised the initiative and gave his warm support. Pointing to the fact that nuclear weapons may jeopardize Israeli security when other countries get similar capabilities, he added that "this is an important recognition of a man who chose to follow his own conscience and the loyalty to mankind". This is good, Mr. Willoch said.
At the official ceremony in Tromsoe on May 15, with the 1995 Nobel laureate Sir Joseph Rotblat as the main speaker, Meir Vanunu will receive the honors on behalf of his brother.
An appeal by the University to the Israeli authorities that Vanunu was entitled to his freedom and should be released for the ceremony had been refused.
A total number of 18 have now received honorary doctorates in Tromsoe, among them Nobel laureates Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu, Rigoberta Menchu. Mordechai Vanunu has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize every one of the last 12 years.
In 1998 Vanunu was denied normal parole after serving two thirds of his sentence to 18 years in prison, even if the first 12 of those years were served in strict isolation. A worldwide campaign has been praising Vanunu for his service to mankind and demandin his urgent release on moral and humanitarian grounds.
The Israeli embassy in Oslo yesterday denounced the decision in sharp language, calling it a peculiar action. - Vanunu broke his oath
pledge to keep silent on his work at Dimona and it is impossible to understand how a university in a democratic country can interfere
into the internal affairs of another democratic country, said a spokesperson.
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