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Hrant Dink Awards granted to Osman Kavala and Mozn Hassan

This year’s International Hrant Dink Awards have been granted to arrested human rights activist and businessperson Osman Kavala from Turkey and women’s rights advocate Mozn Hassan from Egypt.

The 12th International Hrant Dink Award was presented in an online ceremony streamed on the social media accounts of the Hrant Dink Foundation yesterday (September 15). This year’s awards have been granted to arrested human rights defender and businessperson Osman Kavala from Turkey and women’s rights advocate Mozn Hassan from Egypt.

“I am honored to be one of the many feminists from around the world who received this award for their struggle against all forms of discrimination against women and other vulnerable groups” said Mozn Hassan, women’s rights advocate in her acceptance speech that she sent form Egypt.

Osman Kavala emphasized the importance of intercultural dialogue for peace-building in his letter from the prison: “I believe that prejudices between different segments of society and those living in different countries can be overcome by using the mind, communicating, and listening.”

The award ceremony was hosted by Şebnem Bozoklu and Alican Yücesoy in Turkish, and also by Ece Dizdar in English languages. The ceremony was held at 23.5 Hrant Dink Site of Memory. Arto Tunçboyacıyan, Can Bonomo, Dialog Project, Kalben, Kudsi Erguner, and O.F.F. also participated in the ceremony with their performances.

This year’s jury was composed of 2019 laureates women’s rights advocate Nebahat Akkoç and environmental and human rights activist Agnes Kharsiing, director Emin Alper, writer Tanıl Bora, lawyer Cesar Rodriguez Garavito, director Robert Guediguian, lawyer Viviana Krsticevic, child rights activist Molly Melching, writer and diplomat Şafak Pavey, political scientist Füsun Üstel and President of the Hrant Dink Foundation Rakel Dink.

Kavala: Erosion of the value attributed to human life

Osman Kavala, one of the two leurates of this year’s award, sent a message from Silivri Prison. Some highlights from his message were as follows:

“I do believe that prejudices across different segments of the society as well as people living in different countries can be overcome through using our reason, engaging in dialogue and listening to one another.

“In my humble opinion, one of the contributions of arts and literature to humanity is to help people acquire these skills.

“Yet, regrettably, it is quite disappointing to see that some of the initiatives I put efforts in could not make the intended impact or rather to see that the recent developments did override their impact.

“Lately, the most burning issue for many of our citizens like myself is the erosion of the rule of law, one of the main pillars of the Republic.

“Without disregarding the fact that the majority of unlawful practices and rights violations are directed against people who are not publicly known, I would like to remind you of a number of incidents that took place recently.

“Selahattin Demirtaş was re-arrested on new charges that were grounded on the exact same evidence used in the investigation file, under which his release had been ordered following the ECHR judgment.

“Following the reversal of his aggravated life imprisonment, Ahmet Altan was convicted with yet another severe penalty, this time on charges of aiding and abetting an organisation. After his release, he was re-arrested through a court order that overstepped its mandate.

“Diyarbakır Mayor Selçuk Mızraklı was arrested based on an informant’s witness statement, and sentenced to 9 years and 4 months in prison.

“Journalists Barış Terkoğlu, Barış Pehlivan, Murat Ağırel, Ferhat Çelik, Müesser Yıldız, Aydın Keser and Hülya Kılınç were arrested due to their coverage of an information that had already been publicly available.

“The Progressive Lawyers Association’s (ÇHD) Chair Selçuk Kozağaçlı and its lawyer members were re-arrested immediately after their release; the panel of judges which gave the release order was disbanded, and the lawyers were sentenced to decades in prison solely based on the statements of the informant and the anonymous witness.

“The most painful of all is to watch the passing of those who part with life in protest against the unlawfulness. The failure to take steps for such a long time concerning the fair trial demands of the lawyers Ebru Timtik and Aytaç Ünsal is not only an indication of the erosion of legal norms, but also of the value attributed to human life.”

Hassan: It makes all hardships worthwhile

Mozn Hassan, the other leaurate of the award, also sent a message to the award ceremony from Egypt, which briefly read as follows:

“First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to be a recipient of The Hrant Dink Award. By receiving this award, I am honored to join a group of feminists around the world, who have received this award before me for their efforts to combat all forms of discrimination against women and other vulnerable groups.

“Being among you today and receiving the prestigious award, despite ruling dictators from different parts of the world, honors the causes I have been working on, primarily violence against WHRDs and sexual violence against women in the country I am from, Egypt, and other MENA countries.

“In today’s event, we are all participating virtually due to the imposed measures against COVID-19.

“For you, it may feel like a foreign and harsh experience of leading a constrained life or what is now being called the ‘new-normal’; however, I personally feel more equal to my counterparts because as of May 2016, I have been under a travel ban imposed by the national authorities as a punishment for my work as a feminist activist.

“For four years now I have been living with this feeling of lockdown and entrapment, I have been prepared to lead the ‘new-normal’ life a long ago which made me think of the different tools I can use to combat sexual violence in my region and continue my passion for the feminist movement.

“Being presented with such an honourable award today makes it all worthwhile and reminds me to never lose hope regardless of the consequences and to always keep fighting regardless of the repercussions, so I genuinely thank you from all my heart.”

Rakel Dink: We must choose light, not darkness

At the ceremony, Rakel Dink also sang “Yes pulpul yem”, one of the favorite songs of her husband Hrant Dink at Surp Toros Armenian Church in Tekirdağ Malkara, which is awaiting restoration.

As reported by T24 news website, Rakel Dink also held a speech at the ceremony. “Always grudge, hatred, problems and atrocity… But how much longer? Until when? This fate must change,” said Rakel Dink:

“Destruction over destruction, sorrow over sorrow, grief over grief, always trouble and atrocity… But how much longer? Death, pain, tears, mourning… Always grudge, hatred, problems and atrocity…

“But how much longer? Until when? This fate must change, we must choose light, not darkness. Let’s demand justice, honesty and mercy, let’s put on love and respect, let’s live all together and keep alive…”


Moreover, people and institutions from Turkey and all around the world, who shed light to humanity with their struggles are acknowledged as the “Inspirations” of 2020.

Among the Inspirations of this year are three human and women’s rights defenders from Turkey to Chile, Indonesia to Lebanon, Germany to the US, India to China, as well as inspirational individuals and initiatives with their demands for peace, equal citizenship, democracy and justice.

About Osman Kavala

He was born in Paris in 1957. He received his bachelor’s degree in Business from Middle East Technical University, and his master’s in Economics from Manchester University. While he was working on his doctorate in the United States, his father died, and he returned to Turkey. In 1983, he and his friends founded İletişim Publishing in order to support the return to democracy and civilian rule after the September 12 coup through popular publishing.The Marmara Earthquake was a turning point in his life; he supported civic networks created in the region in the wake of the earthquake. In the period that followed, he played an important role in the civil society activities that were newly developing in the country, taking part in the creation of several civil society organizations and their work.In 2002, together with people from the business circles and civil society, he founded Anadolu Kültür in an effort to spread and scale up culture and arts events and to advocate cultural diversity and rights. He participated in projects to support local initiatives and ran projects to strengthen ties between organizations working locally and the culture-arts operators as well as civil society organizations in Europe.In the 1990s, to help bind the wounds left by the fighting in Turkey’s eastern and southeastern provinces and build a culture of dialogue and peace through arts, he played a pioneering role in Anadolu Kültür’s first project, the establishment of the Diyarbakır Art Center. The Kars Arts Center, also with Anadolu Kültür’s support became a cultural meeting space not only for Turkey, but for Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan as well.During negotiations for Turkey’s membership in the European Union, he concentrated on projects to establish ties between European and Anatolian cities, supporting artistic work by Anatolian youth and long-term working relationships between leading figures in the world of culture. DEPO, founded in a former Ottoman tobacco depot in 2008, is an independent art space that hosts the work of many artists with an emphasis on pluralism.After the 2011 Van Earthquake, he held photography workshops. He also created projects and published books for Yazidi and Syrian refugee children living under harsh conditions. He has brought together hundreds of artists as well as their works of art in an effort to contribute to the opening of the sealed border between Turkey and Armenia, which have had no diplomatic relationship since 1993. He has taken part in projects to protect, document and restore the cultural heritage of Anatolia.He has devoted his life to the building of a pluralistic, democratic society. He has advocated dialogue and multiculturalism. He has shown that civil society initiatives, through culture and arts, can strengthen relationships between peoples. He was arrested on November 1st, 2017. As of 15 September 2020 he is still in the Istanbul Silivri High-Security Prison and continues to be productive even in his cell and brings people together.Source: Hrant Dink Foundation
About Mozn Hassan

She was born in 1979 to an Egyptian family in Saudi Arabia. At the age of fourteen she returned to Egypt with her family. She received her bachelor’s degree in Greco-Roman studies at the University of Alexandria, and went on to earn her Master’s in civil society and human rights law at the University of Cairo and the American University of Cairo. Currently, she is earning her masters in community psychology at the American University of Cairo.In 2007 she and ten other young Egyptian women activists founded a civil society organization called ‘Nazra for Feminist Studies.’ Through Nazra’s activities her work sheds light on the power relationships within the society by focusing on its impacts on the political, social and economic status of women. Together with the Women Political Participation Academy Program, it strove to bring a feminist point of view into unions, political movements, political parties and local administrations, and a more powerful voice for female candidates within these organizations. With its Feminist School, it trains young women and men about their personal freedoms and gender in society. It supports art projects that introduce feminism to various segments of society. It gathers and disseminates the stories of feminists in Egypt. It supports women politicians and right defenders in their struggle against the violence and discrimination they faced in the public and political spheres.Through Nazra and on her own, she documented the human rights violations taking place in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. She worked with local organizations to protect the rights of women who experienced sexual violence and gang rape in Tahrir Square. She coordinated the efforts to provide women with medical, psychological and legal support. She followed the cases on sexual violence. After the revolution, Nazra started a hotline for women survivors of sexual assault.Following the revolution, she took part in a coalition of women’s organizations and played a major role in the inclusion of women’s rights in the Egyptian Constitution. Together with her colleagues at Nazra, and in cooperation with state institutions such as the National Council for Women, the National Council for Human Rights and the Ministry of Justice, she ensured that women’s rights were incorporated into laws and political decisions, and had a special unit established within the Egyptian police force to combat violence against women. She brought up the subjects of women’s rights violations, and violence and discrimination against women on several international platforms such as the United Nations. In 2015 she was one of the pioneers in the establishment of a coalition of civil society organizations called the Coalition of Women Human Rights defenders in the Middle East and The Caucus of Women Politicians in the Arab Region.In 2011, an investigation against her was launched on the pretext that Nazra had illegally accepted foreign funding and she supports women to obtain “irresponsible liberty”. In 2016 a travel ban was imposed upon her. Because of the asset freeze of Nazra and her assets, Nazra was forced to close its office. Despite all obstacles, she continues her struggle to end violations of women’s rights and make them visible.Source: Hrant Dink Foundation

About International Hrant Dink Award

International Hrant Dink Award is presented every year to individuals, organizations or groups that work for a free and just world free from discrimination, racism and violence, who take personal risks for achieving those ideals, who break the stereotypes and use the language of peace and by doing so give inspiration and hope to others. By means of this Award, the Hrant Dink Foundation aims to remind all those who struggle for these ideals that their voices are heard, their works are visible, they are not alone, and also to encourage everyone to fight for their ideals.

Each year the award is granted to two individuals; one from Turkey and one from abroad. In addition to the award itself, after an annual scanning and reviewing process, the Award Committee makes a selection of individuals, institutions, organisations and initiatives that pursue activities in line with the principles of Hrant Dink Award and announces their names to the public during the award ceremony under the title of “Sparks” or “Inspirations”.

Award winners

The Hrant Dink Award was previously presented to Nebahat Akkoç in 2019,the founder of KAMER, who has been working to raise awareness about women’s human rights for many years, and Agnes Kharsiing, who has been fighting for the rights and environmental rights of the poor, women, children and disadvantaged people in the region where she lives in India;

In 2018, human rights defender Murat Çelikkan and human rights organizations Mwatana were awarded;

In 2017, to lawyer Eren Keskin who is bringing human rights violations to the agenda of both Turkey and international community by taking all the risks for years, and Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who draws attention to the inequalities and human rights violations all over the world;

In 2016, to Theresa Kachindamoto, chief of the tribe working on children’s human rights and education rights in Malawi, and to the Diyarbakır Bar Association fighting for human rights and the rule of law;

In 2015, to women’s rights advocate Samar Badawi from Saudi Arabia, and KAOS GL fighting for LGBT rights and equality in Turkey;

In 2014, to Şebnem Korur Fincancı, forensic expert and human rights advocate, and activist Angie Zelter;

In 2013, to human rights advocate Nataša Kandić and Saturday Mothers / People;

In 2012, writer İsmail Beşikçi and human rights organization International ‘Memorial’ Community;

In 2011, to journalist, writer Ahmet Altan and journalist, human rights defender Lydia Cacho;

In 2010, Turkey Conscientious Objection Movement and jurist Baltasar Garzón;

In 2009, to journalist-writer Alper Görmüş, and journalist-writer Amira Hass.



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