Jailed Kurdish politician Gökkan awarded Paul Grüninger Foundation's Recognition Prize

The Kurdish politician Ayşe Gökkan, who is in prison in Turkey, has been awarded the second of the Paul Grüninger Foundation's Recognition Prize for Humanity and Courage in Switzerland.

The Paul Grüninger Foundation awarded the Kurdish politician Ayşe Gökkan, who is in prison in Turkey, the second of its Recognition Prize for Humanity and Courage 2023.

The first prize went to Polish refugee helper Paula Weremiuk.

The award ceremony took place on Friday at the Palace Cultural Center in St. Gallen. Ayşe Gökkan's award was accepted by her lawyer, Berfin Gökkan. The lawyer read out a letter from Ayşe Gökkan written in Kurdish: “I greet you with the warmth of the sun and the enthusiasm of Jin-Jiyan-Azadî. As a member of the Movement of Free Women, I accept this award on behalf of thousands of struggling Kurdish women. There are many fighting women in prison in Turkey.”

The foundation justified the awarding of the recognition prize of 10,000 francs to the Kurdish feminist and human rights defender Ayşe Gökkan for her civil society commitment and her criminalization:

“Ayşe Gökkan has particularly distinguished herself as a journalist and as an activist for women's rights. For almost forty years, she has been writing newspaper columns against racial and gender discrimination, speaking at national and international podiums and seminars, leading workshops on the topic of gender inequality and taking part in peaceful demonstrations in this context.

From 2009 to 2014, Ayşe Gökkan was mayor of the Kurdish city of Nusaybin, which lies on the border between Turkey and Syria. When Turkey began to build a wall against refugees between Nusaybin and the neighbouring Syrian town of Qamishlo, the mayor protested against this "wall of shame" with, among other things, a sit-in strike.

Because of her civil society commitment, Ayşe Gökkan has been arrested in Turkey more than eighty times, subjected to more than two hundred investigations and, in 2021, sentenced to more than 26 in a grotesque court case based on the statements of a single “secret witness” for membership in a “terrorist organization”.

She is a victim of the criminalization of the political opposition in Turkey. Ayşe Gökkan is in prison, her sentence has not yet been confirmed by the Turkish Court of Cassation, and proceedings are also pending before the European Court of Human Rights.”