PARIS — Hrant Dink Foundation is awarded the Chirac Prize For Conflict Prevention by the Chirac Foundation. On the ninth year of the prize, the awardees were announced following the meeting of the Chirac Foundation’s Jury on September 27th. The Chirac Foundation also presented its Culture for Peace Prize to Zoukak theater company, which has been contributing, through theater, to the rehabilitation efforts of refugees living in Lebanon camps.

Chirac Foundation was established in 2008 by the former President of the French Republic, Jacques Chirac, with the mission to ‘support efforts for prevention of conflicts, dialogue between cultures and increasing quality of access to health services’.

During the prize ceremony, which was attended by the Jury members and selection committee as well as the international media and leading opinion makers that pursue rights-based advocacy, President of Hrant Dink Foundation, Rakel Dink, received the prize from the President of French Republic Emmanuel Macron. The full text of Rakel Dink’s award speech is as follows;

Your Excellency President Macron, Esteemed Chirac Family, Distinguished Guests,

When we decided to establish this Foundation with our friends after the tragedy that our family suffered in 2007, we had just one intention: to continue Hrant’s efforts with this institution, and try to fill the huge emptiness created in our lives with his struggle for human rights. The racist mentality that made him a target, an enemy and that killed him, is not only trying to get its share of power in Turkey today, but this mentality is rising in the world too, creating new “others” and enemies”, putting up new walls. This world has seen so much pain, isn’t it enough now? So much blood and tears have been shed, isn’t it enough? Instead of propagating pain and suffering, shouldn’t we try to find ways to heal the existing pain? The goal of the states should not be to kill, but to keep alive! For God “has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and self-control” [Bible, 2. Timothy 1:7]

As an Armenian who knows what it means to be displaced, it gives me great pain to see millions of refugees being uprooted and dispersed in the world today. And watching the response of the states to this situation is particularly striking… Unfortunately hate speech is rising all around the world and pushing people into further withdrawing into their own religious or ethnic communities.

But hate speech is not the only thing on the rise. The voices of human rights defenders are also rising. The goal of our Foundation is to fight against discrimination, starting from our own home Turkey, create a language of dialogue and peace, bring different identities closer, protect cultural heritage, improve Turkey-EU relations, open borders in an era when walls are being erected, contribute to the development of Turkey-Armenia relations and most important of all, to overcome the borders in people’s minds. To achieve all these, in Turkey we are working together as Armenians, Turks, Kurds, Muslims and Christians. It makes us proud to be part of the huge family striving for the same ideals and fighting for human rights in the world. Even though it sometimes feels as if we were struggling against huge waves, it gives us hope to know that we are not alone, either in Turkey or in the world. Receiving this prize together with the inspiring Zoukak Theater Company and being with you today has made us stronger. On behalf of myself and our Foundation, I would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude for this prize, which we hope will give further strength to everyone striving for democracy and going through challenging times in Turkey.

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