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About the author

ybtYana Buhrer Tavanier is a freelance journalist from Sofia, Bulgaria.

Previously she was editor ‘Social Issues’ of the Bulgarian weekly Capital (2003-2008), and before that worked as a journalist for various publications.

Yana is a winner of several prestigious awards, including the Paniza Prize for Excellence in Journalism (2002), the award for Best Investigative Article (co-established by the Guardian Foundation, London; 2005), the ‘Dimitar Peshev’ Award for Ethnic and Religious Tolerance in Journalism (2006), and the UNHCR Bulgaria Prize for Journalistic Excellence in Covering Refugee Issues (2007).

Yana is author of the publication ‘Reporting Diversity, a Guide for Journalists‘ (British Council Bulgaria; 2008) and co-author of the ‘Human Development Report’ (UNDP Bulgaria; 2006). She has also directed a documentary film about racism towards Africans in Bulgaria (‘Black in White’, 2006).

Yana is a representative of the Bulgarian Activist Alliance – an informal group of activists, working in the human rights’ field.

As a fellow of the Balkan Fellowship for Journalistic Excellence in 2009, Yana investigated human rights abuses and inhuman and degrading treatment in institutions for adults with intellectual disabilities or mental illnesses in Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2009 6:31 am

    This topic is of critical importance. Large numbers of people worldwide are rendered invisible and abused by institutions and caregivers. Thank you so much for writing and photographing these stories, these lives, these fellow people.

    Name them, show their faces and let nobody remain invisible and left for dead.


  2. eva permalink
    January 9, 2010 1:15 am


  3. February 17, 2010 12:04 pm

    Zdarvei Yana,
    vidiahme informaciata za predstoia6tata ti izlojba v chervenata ku6ta-Sofia i re6ihme da ia publikuvame v na6ia BLOG – . Tova, koeto si zasnela e potresava6to i mnogo tujno. No triabva da bude vidiano ot mnogo hora za da vidiat drugata strana v realnosta. Bihme iskali da ti otpravim predlojenie da se vklu4i6 v na6ia proekt – ART PREDSTAVIANE. Shte se radvame da se svurje6 s nas! Uspeh!

  4. October 11, 2010 5:05 pm

    Bitte , liebe Yana, lassen Sie uns zusammenarbeiten. Bitte machen sie Kontakt zu mir, damit wir die Kommunikation aufnehmen können. Ich will und ich muss für diese Menschen ohne Lebensrecht in BG arbeiten. Ich arbeite hier in der Schweiz auch für sie, aber hier ist für sie gesorgt und mich braucht es jetzt in BG.

    Vielen Dank für Ihre Videos-Berichte-Dias. Auch ich könnte ähnliche Bilder zeigen, weil ich das alles selber gesehen und erlebt habe. Einige der Leute auf Ihren Videos kenne ich.

    Herzliche Grüsse
    Edith Moor

  5. D. Wind permalink
    October 18, 2010 6:11 pm

    Dear Yana,

    Thank you for your excellent report. I am looking for additional information on mental health conditions in Romania as well as current information regarding governmental/societial stigma in Romania regarding persons who suffer from mental health disabilities.

    I am representing on a pro bono basis a Romanian individual who suffers from schizophrenia and is currently facing deportion from the United States. We are seeking to establish a defense to removal based on an argument that the individual will be tortured. Thank you very much for your assistance.

  6. Vera Radeva permalink
    March 1, 2011 2:46 pm

    Dear Yana,
    I am a MSc student in Social Policy and Development at LSE and I am writing my dissertation on the de-institualization process of orphanages in Bulgaria. I am deeply intrigued by your investigation and would like to ask you some questions in relation to my research.
    In that respect i was wondering if there is an e-mail i can write you on?
    Thank you in advance for your time,
    Best Regards,

  7. April 28, 2011 4:49 pm

    Yana you are my hero, I was searching on the ‘net for abuse in Balkan MH Institutions and from the BIRN article came here. Your work is outstanding and thank you so much for bringing this issue up, many more need to know about this, that I wrote about all this in my blog.

    All the best.

  8. August 24, 2011 10:50 am


    Where are the Bulgarian People?
    Where are the Bulgarian collective social responsibilities.
    Bulgarians kill Young Bulgarian.

    No this is not the Bulgarian people I know.
    Must be something in Bulgarian System very, very not right, something very, very non Bulgarian.

  9. February 16, 2012 6:27 pm

    Dear Yana,
    I am from the European Network of (Ex-)Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, and I wanted to show you some of our publications-
    We are the representative organisation of people with experience of psychiatric ‘treatments’ across Europe.
    I would be very glad to feature information about your recent work in our publications. Please contact me at .

    Best wishes and thank you for your excellent work,


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