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Turkey’s Human Rights Association, Afghan activist granted 2022 Int’l Hrant Dink Award

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The Human Rights Association (İHD), a prominent NGO monitoring human rights violations in Turkey since 1986, and Afghan human rights activist Shaharzad Akbar have been granted the 2022 International Hrant Dink Award, according to the Hrant Dink Foundation.

The award is named after Hrant Dink, who was editor-in-chief of the Turkish-Armenian bilingual Agos weekly when he was shot dead in broad daylight outside the newspaper’s offices in central İstanbul on Jan. 19, 2007 by a 17-year-old jobless high-school dropout. The journalist’s murder led to national and international outrage.

The 14th awards ceremony took place at an online event on Sept. 15 and was broadcast on the Hrant Dink Foundation’s social media accounts, marking the birthday of the slain journalist, who would have turned 68 this year.

Metin Bakkalcı, a Turkish human rights activist, accepted the award on behalf of the İHD.

Bakkalcı said the İHD is making efforts for the creation of an environment in Turkey where there will be no need for human rights organizations like itself due to the lack of any human rights abuses. He said they would determinedly continue the fight against human rights violations.

The İHD was established in Ankara by a group of human rights defenders to promote the prevention of torture and help in the rehabilitation of torture victims in the aftermath of the bloody coup of 1980.

The İHD has conducted numerous studies regarding arbitrary arrests, detentions, torture, forced abductions and rights violations in the country’s prisons, and İHD officials have been frequent targets of judicial harassment.

Akbar, who currently serves as the chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, in a speech after accepting her award called on the global feminist and human rights movement to show solidarity with the people of Afghanistan. She said she was calling on them to not normalize the hostility of the Taliban regime towards women and to join their voices with the voices of Afghan women, who want jobs and freedom.

The Taliban rule, which began in Afghanistan with the withdrawal of US troops in August 2021, has had a devastating impact on Afghan women and girls.

The Taliban have imposed policies that have created huge barriers to women and girls’ health and education, curtailed freedom of movement, expression and association, and deprived many of earned income, according to a Human Rights Watch report issued earlier this year.

The International Hrant Dink Award is granted to people and organizations from Turkey and around the world that “shed light on humanity” with their struggles for rights.

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