Every year on September 15th, the birthday of Hrant Dink, editor of the Istanbul-based “Agos” newspaper assassinated in 2007, the annual Hrant Dink Award ceremony takes place in Istanbul. This year the awards were granted to Nebahat Akkoç and Agnes Kharshiing.
Nebahat Akkoç, born in 1955, worked as a teacher in Diyarbakır for 22 years. The human rights abuses brought by the 1980 military regime which targeted wide sections of the public, deeply affected her personal and work life. During visits to her husband who was incarcerated in Diyarbakır Prison, she met female relatives of other prisoners, and saw that they were directly affected not only by communal but also domestic violence. She worked to support female relatives of prisoners who were illiterate and did not speak Turkish.
In 1993, her husband, Zübeyir Akkoç, was assassinated on his way to school. In the wake of this, she retired from teaching in order to focus on human rights work.
She became the first person from Turkey to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights for taking the freedom of thought violations, the murder of her husband, her arrest and torture to this court. In 1999, she won all these suits.
She currently works on integration and access to equal rights of women and children who sought refuge in Turkey as a result of the War in Syria.
Agnes Kharshiing, born in 1960 in India, works for women’s and children’s rights, prevention of sexual violence against children in rural communities and exploitation of teachers in educational institutions. Since 2018 she has been engaged in campaigning against illegal mining in Janita.
The Hrant Dink award is awarded by the Hrant Dink Foundation in commemoration of the founder of “Agos”. The award is granted to individuals, groups and organizations struggling against discrimination, racism and violence.