The tenth International Hrant Dink Award was presented on Saturday, September 15th during an award ceremony held at the Istanbul Lütfi Kırdar International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
This year’s awards were granted to human rights defender Murat Çelikkan, who has worked to create peaceful, democratic and pluralistic solutions to several ongoing heated issues in Turkey, and to Mwatana Organization for Human Rights from Yemen.
On the occasion of the decennial of the International Hrant Dink Award, human right activist and Harvard University faculty member Douglas A. Johnson gave a speech focusing on envisioning the future of human rights, as well as new approaches in the field. Co-founder of the International Nestlè Boycott Committee, Johnson is also among the founders of New Tactics, an organisation that supports human right defenders.
The award ceremony featured the musical performances of Vomank, Collectif Medz Bazar and Sahakyan Children’s Chorus.
2018 awardees were announced at the end of the award ceremony.
Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, conducts independent, impartial documentation work and prepares reports in its courageous struggle against human rights violations in Yemen, in a time when cities of this country are being bombed and thousands of civilians are losing their lives in civil war. On behalf of the organization, Radya el-Mutavakel received the award from the jury members Albie Sachs and Rakel Dink. In her speech, el-Mutavakel said ‘We choose Human Rights to be our road toward accountability, justice and peace. Documenting violations, providing legal assistance, and doing lots of advocacy seems like digging the wall in a middle of a horrible war. However, we feel that our honest work can shake the wall of war and one day it will collapse. Peace will come one day and Mwatana will keep working for a society where justice and full access to rights is guaranteed to everyone.’
For years, Murat Çelikkan has striven to create peaceful, democratic and pluralistic solutions to several ongoing heated issues in Turkey. Aware of the many different risks, he nonetheless speaks out in the defense of human rights. He fights for the establishment of freedom of expression and association, the exposure of human rights violations and torture, and recognition of the rights of those who were ‘disappeared.’ Contributing to the strengthening of collective memory, and raising awareness in this area through his writings on coming to terms with the past and dialogue, Çelikkan received his award from jury member Ercan Kesal and 2017 International Hrant Dink Award laureate Eren Keskin. In his speech, Çelikkan said “It is the struggle for human rights that will light the torch of hope against hopelessness, not only in Turkey but in the entire world. ‘There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.’ In the name of hope, I accept this award."