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Saudi Women’s Rights Activist, Turkish LGBT Rights Initiative Receive Hrant Dink Awards

Women’s rights activist Samar Badawi from Saudi Arabia and an LGBT rights group in Turkey Kaos GL have been presented the 2015 International Hrant Dink Award on Tuesday at a ceremony held at the Istanbul Congress Center, a statement by the Hrant Dink Foundation (HDV) said. The award — handed out annually on Dink’s birthday, September 15 — is traditionally given to two people, groups or institutions from inside and outside Turkey "who work for a world free of discrimination, racism, and violence, take personal risks for their ideals, use the language of peace and by doing so, inspire and encourage others.”

Badawi, as noted in HDV's statement, stands out as a leading voice for advocating women’s rights and for raising international awareness about the oppression of human rights defenders in her country, while Kaos GL was recognised for its persistent and efficient struggle for LGBT rights in Turkey, where violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans individuals continues to increase.

As Samar Badawi could not attend the award ceremony due to a travel ban, her colleague Elsa Saade received the statue on her behalf from the President of Hrant Dink Foundation Rakel Dink and 2014 International Hrant Dink Award laureate Şebnem Korur Fincancı. In her speech, Saade explained how Samar Badawi put her life in danger to fight for the fundamental human rights, and how she became an inspiration for thousands of Saudi women with her dreams and her struggle for making them true. She also emphasized that in regions where power is dictated by the abuse of sectarianism, religion, and economic interests, we need people like Samar Badawi to voice out human concerns. Saade also stressed that such awards and messages of solidarity did extend a cord of hope to those who feel afraid and sometimes forgotten in the most challenging parts of the world.

Kaos GL received its award statue from Ali Bayramoğlu, the Chairman of the International Hrant Dink Award Committee. Having received the statue on behalf of Kaos GL, Ali Erol reminded that homosexuals lived their entire lives in the ‘‘disquiet’’ that took the life of Hrank Dink. He also noted that emancipation of homosexuals was a prerequisite for the liberalisation of the society. Erol also stressed the importance of figuring out the linkages between different forms of discrimination. He said that racist and nationalistic discourses institutionalised through state policies did create ‘‘enemies of the nation” and that this fake ‘‘national integrity’’ could only be overcome by building bridges across various struggles for freedom.