ISTANBUL — The 2014 International Hrant Dink Award was presented to laureates Sebnem Korur Fincanci from Turkey and Angie Zelter from Britain, on September 15, 2014, with a ceremony organized by the Hrant Dink Foundation held at the Cemal Resit Rey Concert Hall in Istanbul.
The award statue was presented to Angie Zelter from Turkey by the Head of the Award Committee Ali Bayramoglu and Ziena Alhajj from Greenpeace.
In 1997, Zelter was one of the six activists that initiated the Trident Ploughshares campaign that aimed to disarm the UK Trident nuclear weapons system via non-violent, direct and peaceful means. In 1999, with Ellen Moxley from the USA and Ulla Roder from Denmark, she entered the Trident Sonar testing station in Loch Goil, Scotland; where they damaged computers and electronic equipment and threw the log books, files and computer hardware overboard. After this specific action, she came to be known as a member of the Trident Three. In 2002, she initiated the International Women’s Peace Service – Palestine. In March 2012, she supported the resistance against the construction of the Jeju Naval Base on Jeju Island, declared in 2005 World Peace Island by the South Korean Government and home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Since the mid-1990s, she has been arrested more than 100 times; these arrests played a significant role in creating public awareness and media interest on nuclear disarmament. In her award speech, Zelter stated that Britain systematically undermines and violates international law. It supports and trades weapons with some of the most repressive regimes in the world and mentioned the current developments as: “Currently it (UK) supplies arms to Israel and refuses to condemn Israeli war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law in the occupation of the West Bank and siege of Gaza.”
The award statue was presented to Sebnem Korur Fincanci from Turkey by the Jury members Baskin Oran and Saturday Mothers/People represenrarives Hanim Tosun and Ikbal Eren.
Having dedicated her professional career to the struggle against torture, in the 1990s, when torture was prevalent in Turkey and covered up by authorities, Korur Fincanci was subjected to the oppression and obstructions of the state as she wrote articles on medical ethics and penned reports documenting torture. In 1996, she took part in post-mortems from mass graves in the Kalesija region of Bosnia as member of the PHR team on behalf of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal.
On behalf of the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture (IRTC), she travelled to Bahrain disguised as a tourist and collected tissue samples from the body of a young man whose remains were discovered at sea, claimed by the police to have drowned. She brought the samples to Turkey, and in the autopsy she carried out, determined that he had been murdered under torture in detention as his family had claimed. She proved the torture carried out by Adil Serdar Saçan, the former Director of the Directorate of Organized Crime Branch. Her application to intervene on the grounds that her telephone had been tapped by the Ergenekon organization and that her personal information had been filed, becoming the only intervening party in the Ergenekon case.
In her award speech, Korur Fincanci gave voice to her embarrassment upon receiving the Hrant Dink Award: “I feel embarrassed because I am receiving this award as I merely try to fulfil the responsibility of being human. In addition to feeling incredibly honoured, I feel embarrassed because I am receiving the same award extended to Saturday Mothers who have been looking for people lost by the state for years. I feel embarrassed because this award means so much. I feel embarrassed because in my mind I have done what needs to be done and that does not call for an award. I feel embarrassed because what needs to be done is still not readily done in these lands. The fact that the Armenian Genocide is still discussed behind closed doors, the denial of Kurds, their annihilation, the fact that the purging out of indigenous people of this land is celebrated every year, that you live with the shame of the fact that in a neighbourhood populated by the ever-shrinking Armenian community a school is named Talat Pasa, a road Ergenekon, a street Türk Beyi, that we feel the plight of all oppressed people in our hearts but that we have failed in dressing their wounds. The embarrassment of this all…”
At the award ceremony, hosted by Olgun Simsek, the President of the Hrant Dink Foundation, Rakel Dink made the opening remarks. Ara Dinkjian, initiating the award ceremony with his piece entitled Keesher Bar, after the opening remarks, took the stage with Ari Hergel to give a musical performance.
Before the awards presentation, Inspirations, a group of people and institutions from Turkey and from all corners of the world who multiply hope for the future with the steps they take, were saluted with a film acknowledging their achievements. The Inspirations of 2014 included Galata Fotografhanesi and the Photography Foundation in Turkey which organized the “The Photographer Children of Soma Workshop” in Elmadere village, following the great Soma mine disaster, in order to provide support to children during the difficult process they faced; the Palestinian non-governmental association, ADDAMEER [Arabic for ‘conscience’], providing support for Palestinian political prisoners held in Israel and Palestine prisons; Ta’ayush [Arabic for ‘living together’], a group of Palestinians and Jews, to end the Israeli occupation and to achieve full civil equality through daily non-violent direct-action; the Institute for Reporters’ Freedom and Safety in Azerbaijan working against governmental restrictions on freedom of expression and press freedom; the Kazova workers in Turkey who occupied their workplace when their factory was closed and they were fired without compensation, and continued production; the AEK supporters’ group Original 21 which unfurled a banner, featuring Alexandros Grigoropoulos and Berkin Elvan, victims of police violence on both sides of the Aegean Sea; a group of citizens in Japan who prepared a video in Turkish, expressing the shame they felt of the Prime Minister of Japan regarding their government’s sale of a nuclear power station to Turkey; the Viasna Human Rights Centre in Belarus providing assistance to political prisoners and their families; the Earth Tables in Turkey during the month of Ramadan, in protest of luxurious iftar banquets organized at five-star hotels; Bytes for All from Pakistan working for freedom of expression and for the prevention of gender-based violence on the internet both in Pakistan and across the world; the movement that was initiated under the name Oy ve Ötesi/Votes and Beyond in order to find independent polling clerks for the 2014 local elections in Turkey because pro-government election rigging has been widespread, became an association in April 2014; the July 21 Association in Italy committed to the protection of the rights of the Roma and Sinti communities in Italy; and,Kiymet Peker who pulled her chair into the path of the bulldozer and started sitting to protect the park in her neighborhood from being demolished.
The Jury of the International Hrant Dink Award 2014 consists of Baskin Oran, Gerard Libaridian, Kenneth Roth, Kumi Naidoo, Mary Kaldor, Oya Baydar, Rakel Dink and 2013 International Hrant Dink Awardees Nataša Kandic and Saturday Mothers / People.
Alper Görmüs, Amira Hass, the Conscientious Objection Movement of Turkey, Baltasar Garzón, Ahmet Altan, Lydia Cacho, Ismail Besikç, International “Memorial” Society Russia, Nataša Kandic and Saturday Mothers / People are the former laureates of the International Hrant Dink Award.