The bar association in Turkey’s southeastern province of Diyarbakır has received the eighth International Hrant Dink Award, presented on Sept. 22 in a ceremony held at the Istanbul Lütfi Kırdar International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The award committee said it was honoring the Diyarbakır Bar Association for “its impartiality, its sensitivity to human rights issues, its opposition to all manners of violence no matter who employs it or for what reason, for standing as a role-model in the region, for making constant and determined efforts to ensure effective investigation of human rights violations, its determined fight to prevent cases from being time-barred and to prevent impunity, for being able to use the language of peace at all times and never giving up its ideals for peace despite the heavy prices it had to pay.”
Ahmet Özmen received the award on behalf of the Diyarbakır Bar Association from the 2016 International Hrant Dink Award jury members Murathan Mungan and Rakel Dink, the wife of the late Hrant Dink, an Armenian-origin Turkish journalist who was assassinated in January 2007.
In his speech, Özmen paid tribute to former Diyarbakır Bar Association head Tahir Elçi, who was shot dead in the central Sur district of Diyarbakır on Nov. 28, 2015 after issuing a press statement demanding the protection of cultural heritage.
“Our fundamental and historic duty is to protect and to further flourish the legacy bestowed upon us by Tahir Elçi and Hrant Dink, to demand peace, and to raise our voice for building peace,” Özmen said after receiving the award.
Meanwhile, the 2015 International Hrant Dink Award laureate, LGBT rights group Kaos GL, also presented an award to International Hrant Dink Award laureate Theresa Kachindamoto, who has strived to overcome the economic difficulties leading to early marriages in her country Malawi.
Kachindamoto has created a fund to pay for the tuition of daughters of poor families and to encourage efforts to strengthen children’s bonds to school life, working tirelessly to change the lives of many young people.
“There is no doubt that I need to push more against the old ways of thinking to achieve my ultimate goal of removing child marriage from Malawi, and giving all girls and boys the opportunity to complete their education … But we still have a lot of work to do, for which I am prepared,” Kachindamoto said in her acceptance speech in Istanbul.
The opening speech of the ceremony was delivered by Ahmet İnsel, the head of the International Hrant Dink Award Committee, while singer Mehmet Erdem also gave a performance.