Who is Ahmet Şık- the Winner of the Raif Badawi Award?
Who is the Winner of Raif Badawi Award 2017?
The Winner: Ahmet Şık
Turkish investigative journalist Ahmet Şık is this year’s winner of the Raif Badawi Award for courageous journalists. Learn more about the life and contribution to free speech of Ahmet Şık.
He writes for “Cumhuriyet”, a leading Turkish daily newspaper critical of the government, as well as other publications. His book “The Imam’s Army”, on the life and work of Fethullah Gülen and his Gülen movement, has been referred to as “the most dangerous book in Turkey”.
Ahmet Şık (born 1970, in Adana) is a professional journalist since 1989. Since the mid-2000s he has been supporting freedom of the press and the rights of journalists. In June 2010 after the publication of the two-volume book “Kırk Katır, Kırk Satır” ("40 mules, 40 cleavers") Şık and his co-author, Ertuğrul Mavioğlu, were indicted on charges of "breaching of confidentiality” of documents related to the Ergenekon trials. Since 2010 Şık has increasingly dealt with the Islamic Gülen movement. In his research he showed how government authorities, especially the police departments, were infiltrated by the Gülenists. On the basis of this research, he was arrested and charged even before his book, under the title “The Army of the Imam’, could be published. In 2011/12, he was behind bars for 13 months.
On 15th July 2016 the failed Coup d’Etat was allegedly carried out by Gülenist army forces. The inquiries and arrests against journalists and employees of the oppositional daily newspaper “Cumhuriyet” began on 31st October 2016. Ahmet Şık was not among the first imprisoned.
After Şık published a series of articles in December 2016, in which he examined the putsch attempt and asked the government unpleasant questions (e.g. “Did the government expect a coup attempt by the Gülenist generals? If so, why were not any countermeasures taken?”, etc.). He was arrested and imprisoned again on 29th December 2016. Şık is accused of conducting terrorist propaganda with his articles and tweets.
In his almost 30-year-career as a professional journalist Ahmet Şık has always pursued his principles and tried to unearth the truth. Regardless of whoever was in power, he followed his heart. For this reason, he was always the target of governmental institutions and the state apparatus. So far, all his trials ended with an acquittal.
Şık’s Attorney, Can Atalay, received the Award instead of the imprisoned Şık
Can Atalay (born 1976) is a left-oriented activist in the Turkish political arena. In addition to his work as a lawyer, he is also an attorney in court proceedings dealing with human and labour rights, environmental and child protection. Among these court cases were very prominent ones as the “Soma case” (the largest Turkish mining disaster of the last decades in Soma, Manisa Province), the “Berkin Elvan case” (Berkin Elvan, a 14-year-old boy, had been severely hit by a police cartridge during the Gezi protests, while just being out for shopping; he succumbed to his injuries after being in a coma for nine months) and the “Fire Catastrophe case” (in November 2016, eleven minors in Adana fell victim to a fire catastrophe in their boarding school belonging to the conservative-Sunni Süleymancı movement due to severe negligence of security requirements).
Atalay is also the Secretary-General of the “Social Rights Association” (“Sosyal Haklar Derneği”, SHD), a non-governmental organization committed to the social rights of citizens. Furthermore, Atalay is a lawyer of the opposition chamber of architects, one of the main organisers of the 2013 Gezi Park Movement.
He has been the lawyer of the journalist, Ahmet Şık, since 2010. Since 2015 court proceedings against Can Atalay are pending for “offending the President”. Atalay has accused Mr. Erdoğan to be a “dictator”.
Watch a recording of the whole ceremony below (in German).