Discours de SEMA à la remise du Prix Franco-Allemand des Droits de l’Homme et de l’Etat de droit (16 décembre 2019)
Franco-German Human Rights and Rule of Law Award
Monday, December 16, 11 a.m, German Embassy
Dear Martin, Dear Ms Asena Günal,
Dear colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am particularly glad to be here today in honor of Ms Günal. As we are here to present you the French-German Award for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, I will briefly go over your achievements.
Dear Asena Günal, you studied International Relations and Sociology at the Middle East Technical University here in Ankara. You received your PhD from Boğaziçi University in Istanbul in 2008 with a thesis on State-citizen relations through health care policies in Turkey. You then pursued a career in Publishing, at the İletişim Publishing House. You are the co-founder of Siyah Bant, a documentation platform on arts censorship cases. Since its foundation you have been the Program Coordinator of Depo, a wonderful center for arts and culture in Istanbul. I had the privilege of visiting a remarkable exhibition at your Center, called “Shared Sacred Sites”, that I recommend to everyone [it will be at CerModern in Ankara in April]. You were also a fellow at the The Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability Program (AHDA), a program at Columbia University, five years ago. And, last but not least, since the arrest in 2017 of Osman Kavala, the founder and former director of Anadolu Kültür, you have been the Executive Director of the Foundation. In that capacity, you are carrying out projects on cultural diversity and rights, supporting local initiatives and international dialogue including with Armenia and creating spaces for Kurdish language and culture.
We have been working closely with you, especially on a project that is very dear to our hearts, called “Spaces of Culture”, led jointly with the German Embassy, the Goethe Institute, the Swedish and the Dutch Consulates, with the Stiftung Mercator and Gerda Henkel Stiftung as well as Turkish foundations like IKSV. The program aims at maintaining access to culture for all, especially for disadvantaged people like refugees and displaced populations, and helping artists in Turkey gaining access to European networks. It works in three cities in Turkey : in Izmir, Gaziantep and Diyarbakır. Recently, we opened with the assistance of the local coordinator of Anadolu Kültür, Övgü Gökçe “Microfolies” in Diyarbakır, an interactive digital museum where you can access 250 masterpieces from 8 French cultural institutions.
Dear Asena Günal,
Your dedicated work for the respect of cultural diversity, in the fight against discrimination and hatred, for dialogue among people in Turkey, is absolutely commendable. For this reason, both the French and the German ministries of Foreign Affairs have decided that you should receive the Franco-German Human Rights and Rule of Law Award.
Since 2016, this prize has been awarded every year to figures who have made an exceptional contribution to the protection and promotion of human rights and the rule of law in their country and at the international level. This prize reaffirms the constant commitment of France and Germany to human rights and the rule of law and helps strengthen their cooperation in this area. I congratulate you, dear Ms Günal, for this award. Through you, our two countries honor all human rights advocates whose work is too often ignored or obstructed. Our two countries express their appreciation and gratitude to those who work every day to ensure that the Universal declaration of Human Rights does not remain an empty slogan. This Declaration continues to be at the heart of the European project and of the European values that we share with Turkey as a founding member of the Council of Europe and as a candidate country to the EU.
Recently, the European Court of Human Rights has taken a very important decision regarding M. Kavala, the former director of Anadolu Kültür Foundation. We do hope that it will be followed by a swift release. As the EU spokesperson said last week, the implementation of this verdict is very important for the ongoing judiciary reform in Turkey.
Dear Ms GÜNAL,
Through you, this award marks our recognition and gratitude to all human rights defenders in Turkey. Your work is essential not only for Turkey and its people, but also for all of us. Congratulations.