Jailed Turkish philanthropist Osman Kavala, Egyptian feminist Mozn Hassan won Hrant Dink Award

Imprisoned philanthropist and human rights activist Osman Kavala and prominent Egyptian feminist Mozn Hassan won the 12th International Hrant Dink Award.

Every year, Hrant Dink Foundation presents the award to individuals who take personal risks for achieving free and just world ideals, who break the stereotypes and use the language of peace and by doing so give inspiration to others, and organisations or groups that strive against discrimination, racism and violence.

Veteran Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, who ran Agos, a newspaper serving Turkey’s 60,000 Christian Armenians, was gunned down in broad daylight on a busy Istanbul street in 2007.

Kavala wrote from his cell in Silivri prison near Istanbul that he and other high-profile detainees had been languishing in jail due to the abysmal state of the rule of law in Turkey. He reminded the jailed pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) politicians, Selahattin Demirtaş and Selçuk Mızraklı, and Ebru Timtik, a lawyer who started a hunger strike in prison demanding a fair trial and died on the 238th day of her hunger strike.

Kavala was arrested on Nov. 1, 2017, on charges of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government by funding the 2013 anti-government protests centred around Gezi Park. He was acquitted in February this year, but before he could be released, he was arrested again on charges of aiding and abetting the failed coup plot of July 15, 2016. His third arrest came on March 9, over espionage charges.

More than two years after Kavala was first arrested, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in December last year that the philanthropist’s rights to liberty and security had been violated over his detention, which was not based on sufficient evidence. The ECHR also ruled that Kavala’s arrest had been under ulterior purposes, “to silence him and dissuade other human rights defenders”.

Meanwhile, Hassan, the Executive Director of Nazra for Feminist Studies, a group that aims to build an Egyptian feminist movement and supports women human rights defenders through legal and psychological interventions, said she was honoured to receive the Hrant Dink Award. 

She has extensively worked on numerous feminist issues in Egypt and the Middle East since 2001 including violence against women in the public space.

"Receiving such a prestigious award makes all these difficulties worthwhile and reminds me of the importance of continuing the struggle without losing hope, despite all the possible consequences," she said.

"I am honoured to join feminists from around the world who received such awards for their struggle against all forms of discrimination against women and other vulnerable groups."

Hrant Dink tried to play his role as a journalist to improve dialogue between Turks and Armenians. The International Hrant Dink Award is presented annually under the aegis of the International Hrant Dink Foundation at an award ceremony organised on Hrant Dink’s birthday, September 15th.