Turkish journalist and activist Murat Celikkan received the award “Civil Rights Defender 2018” on Thursday. The ceremony was held in Stockholm Sweden, as part of the “Defenders Days” – One of the world’s largest conferences attended by around 200 human rights defenders from around the world, organized by Civil Rights Defenders (CRD).
“It was a wonderful ceremony, Murat Celikkan of Turkey was a really good recipient of the Civil Rights Defender of the Year award. He is really a prominent human rights defender from Turkey doing great work”, Executive Director of CRD John Stauffer told Historia Ime.
In an interview for Historia Ime, Murat Celikkan said he was honored for receiving this award. He also gave a message to the activists participating in the event: “Most of the people in the room could have received this award, and they deserve it and there are a lot of people around the world who could have gotten this award. Human rights is a collective work. What you do in Albania affects what I do in Turkey too and all over the world for the human rights family. So I think accepting an award like this is for all the human rights family.”
Who is Murat Celikkan
This short film tells the story of Murat Celikkan, a journalist and activist who despite great personal dangers, works for human rights in Turkey at a time when the country is suffering from strong authoritarian tendencies and where critics of the regime are classified as terrorists, traitors, and sentenced to prison.
Murat Celikkan has been engaged for more than 30 years in the human rights movement in Turkey as the founder of the “Truth and Justice Memory Center” organization.
Asked by Historia Ime about the importance of this price, Celikkan said:
Of course it is very important to be awarded but the most important thing is the acknowledgement of the work of human rights defenders on Turkey. There are not only violations but people are still struggling for human rights and I am so glad that someone from Turkey received it.
Celikkan was sentenced to 18 months of jail for allegedly supporting terrorist activities because he took part in a campaign on free speech. It is one of the strongest voices against repressive policies in Turkey.
Asked by Historia Ime about how hard it is to be a journalist and activist at the same time, he said:
We are not only one thing, you can be a journalist, you can be an activist, you can have your political thoughts and be active for them for a certain extent and you can be like, preferring a different gender role. These are all part of who we are. The important thing is not mixing them. If you can protect your impartiality as a journalist, yes you can be an activist too and it is better that you are an activist. Because there is something called human rights journalism too.
What is the “Civil Rights Defender” award?
Since 2013, Civil Rights Defenders annually award a prominent human rights activist who, despite personal security risks, works to ensure that civil and political rights of people are recognized and protected. Activists such as Natasa Kandic from Serbia, Ales Bialiatski from Belarus, Nguyễn Ngọc Như Quỳnh from Vietnam, Intigam Aliyev from Azerbaijan and Edmund Yakani from Sudan, have been recipients of this prize.
“The work of human rights defenders is fantastic and necessary in today’s society. In order for us to build a better world, human rights defenders are crucial and they need to keep on doing the great work that they do,” said for Historia Ime John Stauffer of Civil Rights Defenders.