Raif Badawi Award Ceremony 2017
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom has awarded this year’s Raif Badawi Award for courageous journalists to Turkish investigative journalist Ahmet Şık in absentia. The independent jury selected Şık because of his outstanding importance for Turkey’s free media, and as a representative of all journalists currently imprisoned in Turkey. In Ahmet Şık’s absence, Ensaf Haidar, wife of imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, presented the award to Şık’s lawyer, human rights activist Can Atalay. “I am deeply touched by Ahmet Şık’s courage. He and Raif are sharing the same fate. Both were imprisoned for saying what they think”, said Haidar.
Can Atalay read out Ahmet Şık’s expression of thanks on his behalf: “I am proud and sad to receive this prize. I am behind bars for exercising my profession as a journalist, for telling the truth and expressing my opinion. And I am being given an award named after Raif Badawi, who is himself imprisoned and being tortured in another country for expressing his opinion.”
In his speech paying tribute to Şık, former German interior minister Gerhart R. Baum noted that Şık’s case reflected the current political situation in Turkey. Baum sharply criticised the Turkish government for cracking down with disproportionate harshness on thousands of alleged supporters of the July 2016 coup attempt, including 170 imprisoned dissident journalists and authors. He added that the recipient of the award was one of Turkey’s leading journalists, many of whom were currently being put on trial without any guarantees that due process would be followed. “The fate of Ahmet Şık and Can Dündar, to name just two of the accused, is and remains a barometer of freedom and constitutional development in Turkey, which is an indicator of the relationship between Turkey and the European Union as a whole”, said Baum, adding: “Turkey cannot expect to continue its process of integrating with the European value community if it continues to systematically restrict civil rights and liberties.”
In his speech, Ahmad Mansour, spokesperson of the Muslim Forum Germany, honoured the award winner as a courageous man who was persecuted and incarcerated for relentlessly pursuing the truth, even when it was an uncomfortable one. The right to freedom of expression was one of the most important foundations of a free and democratic order, he added. But it was also a right subject to increasing restrictions globally in recent years, as could be seen in Saudi Arabia and the man after whom the award was named, Raif Badawi. Mansour therefore called for “a strong signal to be sent to radicals of any type”. “We will not let ourselves be intimidated by you, and we will not allow you to use violence to restrict our freedom of expression!”
The unendowed award for journalists was initiated by Badawi’s wife, Ensaf Haidar, and German TV presenter Constantin Schreiber. It is intended to raise awareness for the imprisoned Saudi blogger Raif Badawi, who was sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ten years’ imprisonment. The award is supported by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association.
Watch a recording of the Award Ceremony in German below: