Saudi activist, Turkish LGBTI rights group get Hrant Dink awards

Saudi activist, Turkish LGBTI rights group get Hrant Dink awards

Saudi activist, Turkish LGBTI rights group get Hrant Dink awards

DHA Photo

A women’s rights advocate from Saudi Arabia and an LGBTI rights group in Turkey have been given this year’s International Hrant Dink Award - dedicated to the Armenian journalist murdered in 2007 – at a ceremony in Istanbul, the state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.

Samar Badawi, a women’s rights activist in Saudi Arabia, and Ankara-based Kaos GL, the first legal LGBTI entity in Turkey, with its magazine serving as a voice for gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals and anti-heterosexists, received the seventh International Hrant Dink Awards at a ceremony in Istanbul on Sept. 15, a date marking the birthday of Dink, who was murdered by a Turkish nationalist outside his office in 2007.

The president of the Hrant Dink Foundation, Rakel Dink, and last year’s award laureate Şebnem Korur Fincancı presented this year’s award to Elsa Saade on behalf of Badawi, who could not attend the ceremony due to a travel ban.      

Saade said how Badawi put her life in danger to fight for fundamental human rights and how she became an inspiration for thousands of Saudi women with her dreams and struggle to make them come true.      

“We need people like Samar Badawi to voice human [rights] concerns,” she said, adding, “Awards and messages of solidarity did extend a cord of hope to those who feel afraid and sometimes forgotten in the most challenging parts of the world.”      

The Hrant Dink Awards are given to “two people, groups, or institutions from inside and outside Turkey, who work toward a world free of discrimination, racism and violence and also take personal risks for their ideals, use the language of peace and by doing so, inspire and encourage others,” a statement from the Istanbul-based Hrant Dink Foundation said.      

Ali Erol received the second award on behalf of Kaos GL from Ali Bayramoğlu, a Turkish intellectual and chairman of the Hrant Dink Award Committee. 

Speaking at the ceremony, Erol said they had been struggling for LGBTI rights for more than 20 years.

He recalled the rights group’s motto, “The liberation of homosexuals will liberate heterosexuals as well,” at the ceremony.    

Turkish singer Ceylan Ertem and Armenian singer Eileen Khatchadourian took the stage at the ceremony.     

This year’s award jury consisted of Turkish political scientist Baskın Oran, Armenian historian Gerard Libaridian, Human Rights Watch (HRW) Executive Director Kenneth Roth, Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, British academic Mary Kaldor, Turkish writer Oya Baydar, Hrant Dink Foundation President Rakel Dink and last year’s award receivers, British peace activist Angie Zelter and forensic medicine specialist Şebnem Korur Fincancı.