Eren Keskin receives ‘Peace, Friendship and Democracy Award’: "The struggle continues"

Human rights activist Eren Keskin has been granted the ‘Peace, Friendship and Democracy Award’ by Diyarbakır Medical Association for her years of work against violence against women.

Diyarbakır Medical Association has granted human rights lawyer Eren Keskin the ‘Peace, Friendship and Democracy Award’ for her years of work to combat violence against women. Since the 1990s, known as "the dark years" especially for Kurdish society, Keskin has been committed to helping victims of sexual violence and rape, fighting against racism and discrimination and for human rights to be valid for everyone, everywhere, the award sponsor's statement said.

Diyarbakir Medical Association has been awarding the Peace, Friendship and Democracy Prize since 1995. Eren Keskin, who is also co-chairwoman of the Human Rights Association (IHD), received it on Saturday with the slogan "Jin, Jiyan, Azadî" (Women, Life, Freedom) and the sentence "The struggle continues." The jury had already announced this year's winner in February. This Saturday, the award ceremony took place in the conference rooms of the Diyarbakir Bar Association. In the audience sat a number of well-known figures from politics, the arts and civil society, including members of the HDP parliamentary group and activists from the Peace Mothers initiative.

Message from Mızraklı read out

The ceremony began with a moment of silence for all health workers who lost their lives on duty. The opening speech was given by Elif Turan, the president of the Medical Association. Turan first extended a greeting to the imprisoned and deposed mayor of Amed, Adnan Selçuk Mızraklı, and former HDP deputy Idris Baluken. "Democracy is essential for health and peace. Peace and democracy are a prerequisite for universal medical values," Turan said. She then read out a message from Mızraklı. The 58-year-old politician, who is a doctor by profession, has been in prison since October 2019. In March 2020, he was sentenced to nine years and four and a half months in prison for "membership in an armed terrorist organization." In his message, Mızraklı recalled the many health workers who died in the wake of the Corona pandemic in Turkey and stressed the importance of boosting public confidence and well-being now.

Eren Keskin: The region is crossed by a vein of disobedience

In her speech, Eren Keskin herself recalled the past thirty years of her life, during which she always advocated an end to human rights violations in Turkey. Looking back to the 1990s, the 61-year-old described the state structure she was dealing with at the time, saying, "We knew there was a power outside the government apparatus, we all knew there was militarism. We were aware of these structures, but the governments denied the existence of these structures."

Now we are facing a state that openly admits its deeds, Keskin continued. "It is the official ideology of Turkish-Islamic synthesis that has persisted since the Armenian genocide and makes us feel its existence at all times. This ideology has been so deeply internalized that today even society resembles the state. We are confronted with a racism that has become habitual," Keskin said.

Remarking that the world has always been changed by those who struggle and resist, Keskin said the following concerning the Kurdish region in Turkey; “I believe that there is a vein of disobedience running through the region. I trust this mainly Kurdish vein very much. So, our motto is; the struggle continues. There is no other alternative anyway. We need each other.”