Turkey’s ‘Standing Man’ receives German human rights award

Turkey’s ‘Standing Man’ receives German human rights award

Turkey’s ‘Standing Man’ receives German human rights award

The laureate of the international Potsdam media forum «M100», Erdem Gundüz smiles while receiving his award on Sept. 6 in Potsdam, Germany. AP photo

A Turkish activist dubbed the “Standing Man” has received a major human rights award in Germany, for a solo demonstration he staged in June to protest the government at the height of the Gezi protests in Istanbul.
Erdem Gündüz, a 34-year-old dancer and choreographer, was honored by the International Potsdam Media Forum with the M100 Media Award, which is granted to people who show a “courageous commitment to freedom of expression and human rights.”
He was given the prestigious prize by a jury of journalists. 
Gündüz became publically known after standing motionless and staring for hours in Istanbul’s Taksim Square on June 17, challenging the riot police who had brutally quelled any expression of dissent until that date.
His solo protest came a day after Gezi Park, where protesters had camped in tents, had been forcibly evacuated with a major police crackdown on the whole Taksim Square area, at the heart of Istanbul’s entertainment district. Following his one-man resistance, many people were inspired by him to go to Taksim Square and stand motionless in similar acts of civil disobedience.


Erdem Gündüz's one-man resistance on June
17 inspired many people to go to Taksim
Square and stand motionless in similar acts 
of civil disobedience. REUTERS photo

“With his silent protest, he became the icon of peaceful resistance and has been emulated around the world,” said the jury, which selected Gündüz for the prize on Aug. 28.
“His weapon is creativity, his trademarks are courage and perseverance. That is what you need to promote free speech and human rights,” Potsdam Mayor and M100 chair Jann Jakobs said.
Last year the award went to European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.
Previous recipients include Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who drew controversial pictures of the Prophet Muhammad, and former French Foreign Minister and founder of Doctors without Borders Bernard Kouchner.