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Osman Kavala

Osman Kavala

Anadolu Kültür
Václav Havel Prize

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe's 11th Václav Havel Human Rights Prize – which honours outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights – has been awarded to imprisoned Turkish human rights defender, philanthropist and civil society activist Osman Kavala.

Osman Kavala has become one of the important actors in Turkey’s developing civil society activities during the 1990s, working in a variety of civil society organizations and projects. In 2002, he decided to focus his work  on arts and culture and founded Anadolu Kültür together with a team of like-minded individuals from the arts, business world, and civil society. The group’s objectives included enabling the production, viewing and sharing of arts and culture in Turkey, supporting local initiatives, emphasizing cultural diversity and rights and strengthening local and international collaborations. Anadolu Kültür aimed for creating a culture of peace in the society by their projects. In addition to his work with Anadolu Kültür, Osman Kavala is also a founding member, board member and on the advisory board of many civil society organizations such as Open Society Foundation (Açık Toplum Vakfı), Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (Türkiye Ekonomik ve Sosyal Etüdler Vakfı – TESEV), TEMA Foundation, History Foundation (Tarih Vakfı), Diyarbakır Political and Social Research Institute (Diyarbakır Siyasal ve Sosyal Araştırmalar Enstitüsü – DİSA), Turkish Cinema and Audiovisual Culture Foundation (Türkiye Sinema ve Audiovisuel Kültür Vakfı – TÜRSAK). As his curriculum vitae clearly evidences, Osman Kavala has dedicated his life toward building a civil and just society.

Human rights defenders (HRDs) in Turkey have been subjected to judicial harassment, including criminal prosecution, violent attacks, threats, surveillance, prolonged arbitrary detention, and ill-treatment. In the aftermath of an attempted coup in July 2016, the environment for the work of HRDs deteriorated even further.