The tenth International Hrant Dink Award was presented on Saturday, September 15th with a ceremony held at the Istanbul Lütfi Kırdar International Convention and Exhibition Centre. This year’s awards were granted to Murat Çelikkan, a human rights activist who conducts projects on collective memory and coming to terms with the past for many years, and Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, a civil society organisation from Yemen which struggle against the human rights violations in the country, in the context of civil war.

The award ceremony was hosted by Tilbe Saran and the opening speech was made by the President of the Hrant Dink Foundation, Rakel Dink.

You can reach 2018 Award Booklet by clicking here.

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 ceremony. 2018 International Hrant Dink Awards were granted to Murat Çelikkan and Mwatana Organization for Human Rights.

For years, 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.”

The second laureate of the 2018 International Hrant Dink Award has been Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, which 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.’

As part of the ceremony, a video featuring a selection of the past ten years’ ‘inspirations’ has been shown to salute people and organisations from Turkey and around the world who raise hope for the future with their actions. Following this, ‘inspirations’ 2018 has been screened. 17 people and initiatives from Turkey to Kenya, from Egypt to Mexico, from Armenia to Iran who spark change with their struggle for women’s and human rights, alongside their quest for peace, equal citizenship, democracy and justice were among the ‘inspirations’ of this year.

The award jury for this year is composed of, 2017 International Hrant Dink Award laureate, human rights activist and lawyer Eren Keskin, 2017 International Hrant Dink Award laureate, artist Ai Weiwei, human rights activist and former judge Albie Sachs, political scientist Ayşe Kadıoğlu, writer, actor and director Ercan Kesal, human rights activist Özlem Dalkıran, historian Ronald Grigor Suny, artist Sarkis, musician and political activist Serj Tankian, women’s rights activist Zainab Salbi and the President of Hrant Dink Foundation Rakel Dink.

The International Hrant Dink Award was previously presented to a tribal chief who works for children’s human rights and education rights Theresa Kachindamoto, a civil society organisation that works for human rights and rule of law Diyarbakır Bar Association in 2016; women’s rights activist from Saudi Arabia Samar Badawi and LGBT association KAOS GL in 2015; to forensic medicine specialist and human rights defender Şebnem Korur Fincancı and activist Angie Zelter in 2014; to human rights defender Nataša Kandic and Saturday Mothers / People in 2013; to writer İsmail Beşikçi and human rights organisation International “Memorial” Society Russia in 2012; to journalist-writer Ahmet Altan and journalist, human rights defender Lydia Cacho in 2011; the Conscientious Objection Movement of Turkey and prosecutor Baltasar Garzón in 2010to the journalist-writer Alper Görmüş and journalist-writer Amira Hass in 2009.

The award ceremony was broadcast live through and Highlights of the ceremony were shared real-time in Turkish, English and Armenian through the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the Foundation and the award with the following #HrantDinkÖdülü#HrantDinkAward#ՀրանդՏինքՄրցանակ