Turkish Journalist Murat Çelikkan and the Yemeni organization, Mwatana for Human Rights, won the 10th International Hrant Dink Award, the foundation reported.

Every year, Hrant Dink Foundation presents the award to individuals who take personal risks for achieving free and just world ideals, who break the stereotypes and use the language of peace and by doing so give inspiration to others, and organizations or groups that strive against discrimination, racism and violence.

During the ceremony, 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 musical performances by Vomank, Collectif Medz Bazar and Sahakyan Children’s Chorus.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Murat Çelikkan said he could continue his work thanks to people supporting peace although they sentenced to death as they challenge the “death and blood policy (of the government).”

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.

The spokesperson of Mwatana for Human Rights, Radya el-Mutawakel, said the situation of Yemen differs from Turkey; however, the human rights organizations of both countries face the same difficulties.

“In spite of the very big differences on the situation between Yemen and Turkey, we still share many similar difficulties as civil society. Also, when we read more about Hrant himself and each person in the Jury, we even felt happier and prouder to be granted the award.”

Mwatana Organization for Human Rights, conducts independent, impartial documentation work and prepares reports in its courageous 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.

The Jury consisted of human rights activists, actors, directors, musicians and writers; Eren Keskin, Ai Weiwei, Albie Sachs, Ayse Kadioglu, Ercan Kesal, Özlem Dalkiran, Ronald Grigor Suny, Sarkis, Serj Tankian, Zainab Salbi and Rakel Dink.

Hrant Dink tried to play his role as a journalist to improve dialogue between Turks and Armenians. The International Hrant Dink Award is presented annually under the aegis of the International Hrant Dink Foundation at an award ceremony organized on Hrant Dink’s birthday, September 15th.

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