13th International Hrant Dink Award was presented on Wednesday, September 15th at an online ceremony streamed on the Hrant Dink Foundation accounts. This year’s awards were granted to investigative journalist Maria Ressa who defends press freedom in the Philippines under difficult political conditions and high personal risks and women’s rights activist and lawyer Canan Arın who persistently continues defending gender equality and her struggle against gender based violence in Turkey.
The award ceremony was narrated by Defne Kayalar in Turkish, and by Esra Dermancıoğlu in English languages. We thank to Mahir Günşıray and Eric Nazarian for taking part at the ceremony with their great voice overs. The ceremony was held at 23.5 Hrant Dink Site of Memory. Hrant Dink’s wife and the President of the Hrant Dink Foundation Rakel Dink welcomed the guests on behalf of the Foundation and stated that “At Hrant Dink Foundation, we stand for solidarity, goodness, equality, justice, including the right to life for the environment, nature, and human beings.” Agnes Callamard, the Secretary General of Amnesty International gave the opening speech which reflected on the struggle for human rights over the past year. Callamard ended her speech with the following words “We consider this our foremost duty: to speak up together when many may be prevented from doing so, to speak truth to power, no matter the size of power.”
Moreover, during the ceremony, people and institutions from Turkey and all around the world, who shed light to humanity with their struggles are acknowledged as the ‘Inspirations’ of 2021. Among the Inspirations of this year, there are human, environmental, refugee and women’s rights defenders from Turkey to Russia, Myanmar to the United States, Belarus to Kenya, as well as inspirational individuals and initiatives with their demands for peace, equal citizenship, democracy and justice.
Alongside the acceptance speeches of the laureates, unique musical performances were also present at the ceremony. Ezhel’s new song Mayrig [Mother], has met with the audience for the first time, Pervin Chakar, Ertan Tekin and Ayta Sözeri gave unique performances with original melodies. With Songül Öden’s narration Iraz Akçam, Ayça Bildik, Banu Fotocan, Gülçin Kültür Şahin, Zeynep Şengöz, Nesrin Uçarlar brought to life a song by Nazan Öncel giving voice to the injustices women face. The ceremony’s music supervisor Arto Tunçboyacıyan brought together musicians of all ages from Armenia; Vahagn Hayrapetyan, Gohar Hovhannisyan, Kamarama, Tmbata, Tsakhruk Ethno Music Group of Specialized Children’s Home of Kharberd, Yerevan Saxophone Quartet and Wood Winds Project have enriched the ceremony with their folkloric tunes and rich melodies.
Laureate Canan Arın from Turkey marked in her speech the importance of women’s rights struggle with the following words “Amid all the atrocities, amid this horrible picture, women’s resistance and solidarity remains our only source of hope and courage.”
Laureate Maria Ressa with her message from the Phillipines stated that “To journalists & activists who continue to fight, “We have to stay the course. Sometimes, people say you’re naïve or foolish. People say that about us. We’re not.”