The 2015 International Hrant Dink Award was presented on Tuesday, September 15th to Samar Badawi and Kaos GL.
The seventh annual Dink Award honors the slain Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, “who dedicated much of his life to to the cause of human rights, particularly for minorities in Turkey,” and celebrates the hard work of individuals and organizations who are advancing human rights in the Middle Eastern region.
Samar Badawi is a Saudi woman’s rights activist who first brought attention to the cause through her own lawsuit, filed at age 15, against her physically abusive father. Badawi went on to fight for a woman’s right to vote and to drive cars, and fought against the guardianship system in place in Saudi Arabia. Although the Dink Award was intended to go to Badawi, she has been placed under a travel ban for her human rights activism, and was unable to receive the award in person.
Kaos GL, of Turkey, operates the oldest LGBTQ magazine in the country with a mission to decrease homophobia, transphobia, and sexism. In particular, “they seek to draw attention to legal injustices as well as the violent attacks on the LGBT community that often go unvoiced in mainstream media.” Their motto, which illustrates their feelings on inclusivity, states “the liberation of homosexuals will also free heterosexuals.”
It is important to shine a light on those doing positive work for human rights in the Middle East, as so often all that is reported is the tragedies of violence, arrest, and human rights violations in the area. It is important to note that there are individuals, from within their own countries, who are working on change and doing groundbreaking, sometimes dangerous, work of changing the hearts and minds of the Middle Eastern public to be more accepting and understanding of their LGBTQ neighbors, friends, and family.