The Institute for the Study of Human Rights congratulates Turkish human rights defender Murat Çelikkan being named Civil Rights Defender of the Year. Celikkan is a founding member and co-director of Hafıza Merkezi, the Center for Truth, Memory and Justice, in Turkey and a 2012 alumnus of the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability (AHDA) Fellowship.
"[Çelikkan] has laid the foundation of several prominent human rights organizations and, to this day, continues to be a symbol of justice and a role model for other human rights defenders. Despite the increasingly difficult situation for the country’s civil society, he continues to fight for a more open Turkey," stated Civil Rights Defenders in issuing the award.
Çelikkan has been working as a reporter, editor, columnist and editor-in-chief for over 25 years. He has actively taken part in the human rights movement and was jailed for his activism from August to October 2017. He was a founding member and has been on the boards of the Human Rights Association, Helsinki Citizens Assembly, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Foundation.
Hafıza Merkezi is an independent human rights organization established in November 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. Hafıza Merkezi aims to uncover the truth concerning past violations of human rights, strengthen the collective memory about those violations, and support survivors in their pursuit of justice.
The Civil Rights Defenders annually award a prominent human rights defender who, despite the risk to his or her own safety, strives to ensure that people’s civil and political rights are recognized and protected.