In Memory of Max Perutz

This report is dedicated to the memory of one of the Network’s founding members, Professor Max F.Perutz, who died on February 6, 2002. He was 87 years old.

Max was a world-renowned scientist who, in 1962, along with John C.Kendrew, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “for their studies of the structures of globular proteins.” In 1993 Max became one of the founding members, along with François Jacob, Pieter van Dijk, and Torsten Wiesel, of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies. The Network’s files contain copies of dozens of letters from Max, all meticulously written in his own hand. He wrote to imprisoned colleagues and their families, encouraging them to stay strong. He wrote to heads of state and government ministers, requesting their humanitarian interventions for prisoners of conscience. And he wrote to the Network’s secretariat to raise human rights issues, to comment on the direction of its work, and, sometimes, to point out a grammatical error or improper punctuation. He even wrote to apologize for not being able to do more than he was already doing—which was a considerable amount.

In addition to a brilliant mind and creative spirit, Max had a passionate and compassionate soul as well as a single-minded determination to promote and protect human rights. Embracing life with joy and humor, he took an interest in and cared deeply about people everywhere and what happened to them, reaching out to those in need of help and support. He was outraged by injustice and appalled by brutality. Pulling no punches, he fought the good fight for the promotion and protection of human rights with energy and fervor to the very end of his life. We can best honor Max’s memory by picking up where he left off and continuing his struggle for justice, equality, and human rights.

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