Murat Çelikkan

Physician, Yemeni Human Rights Organization Receive 2018 Hrant Dink Award


ISTANBUL — The 2018 International Hrant Dink Awards were given this month to Murat Çelikkan of Turkey and the Mwatana Organization for Human Rights from Yemen.

Mwatana conducts independent, impartial documentation work and prepares reports in its 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, Radhya al-Mutawakel received the award from jury members Albie Sachs and Rakel Dink.

Radhya al-Mutawakel of Mwatana Organization for Human Rights from Yemen

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, 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.”

As part of the ceremony, people and organizations from Turkey and from around the world, who raise hope for the future with their actions were saluted with the video of people who offered inspiration this year.

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Those included:

* Female workers of Flormar for taking advantage of their constitutional rights and unionizing

* High school students from the United States for launching the ‘March for our Lives Campaign’ to demand restrictions on firearms

* Dr. Gamal Albinsaid from Indonesia for creating Garbage Clinical Insurance which enables the poor to obtain health services

* Sicilya Demirspor from Istanbul for forming mixed-gender teams in which men and women can develop the practice of struggling together

* La Patronas from Mexico for distributing food and water to migrants trying to reach the United States

* Vida Movahed and Masih Alinejad from Iran for protesting the mandatory hijab

* ‘The School of Life’ from Turkey, an alternative academy formed by Academics for Peace

* Umoja Uaso Women’s Village formed by Samburu tribe member Rebecca and fifteen rape victims for providing shelter for women

* Thousands of Jews and Arabs from Israel for gathering in Habima Square to protest ‘Jewish Nation State Bill’

* #FamiliesBelongTogether people in the United States, who protested separating the immigrant children from their families

* The people of Armenia who demonstrated demanding democracy, justice and transparency in a celebratory atmosphere of non-violence;

* Syrian doctor Amani Ballour, for running a hospital in North Guta

* Swedish student Elin Ersson for refusing to take her seat in the plane, until the deportation order of an Afghan migrant is rescinded

* The UpSendrom project for bringing volunteer specialists together with families who cannot get a medical certificate for their Down Syndrome child

* The Environmental Protection Association from Egypt for teaching women to read and write, and to make items from factory refuse

* Osman Kavala, who has brought together countless people and organizations working for human rights, cultural rights, and peace

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 organization that supports human right defenders.

The award ceremony featured the musical performances of Vomank, Collectif Medz Bazar and Sahakyan Children’s Chorus.

The 2018 Award jury comprises Eren Keskin, Ai Weiwei, Albie Sachs, Ayse Kadıoglu,Ercan Kesal, Özlem Dalkıran, Ronald Grigor Suny, Sarkis, Serj Tankian, Zainab Salbi and Rakel Dink.

For more information on the foundation, visit


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