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Home News Posthumous award for Turkish lawyer who died on hunger strike

Posthumous award for Turkish lawyer who died on hunger strike

Published on 24/09/2020

A Turkish lawyer who died after a lengthy hunger strike in jail, and her still-imprisoned lawyer sister were on Thursday awarded a major human rights prize.

“The jury has chosen to remind the world the martyrdom suffered by Turkish lawyers today,” Bertrand Favreau, president of the Ludovic Trarieux Award jury, told AFP.

The international prize was awarded to Ebru Timtik, who died last month after a 238-day hunger strike to protest against her imprisonment on terror-related accusations, and her sister Barkin, who is serving a lengthy sentence on similar charges.

The prize committee, which made its announcement in Geneva Thursday, had wanted to honour and show its “gratitude” to both sisters, “one jailed for 18 years and the other dead from a hunger strike as she demanded a fair trial,” Favreau said.

Ebru, weighed just 30 kilogrammes (65 pounds) when she died at the age of 42 on August 27, according to her friends.

Her death drew condemnation from around the world.

She had been serving a 13-year-sentence, and her younger sister Barkin, 38, is still serving her sentence of 18 years and nine months handed down in March 2019.

Both were members of the Contemporary Lawyers’ Association (CHD), a group accused of having close ties to the outlawed Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C), a far-left Marxist organisation.

The DHKP-C has claimed responsibility for a number of deadly attacks in Turkey, including a 2013 suicide bombing at the US embassy in Ankara, which killed a Turkish security guard.

The Ludovic Trarieux Award is an annual prize which recognises lawyers of any nationality who have sought to defend human rights, often at great risk to themselves.

The award was named after Trarieux, who in 1898 founded France’s Human Rights League (LDH).

Its first laureate was anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, who was awarded the prize in 1985, and who would remain in prison for another five years before emerging to become South Africa’s first black president.

In 2019, the prize was given to Rommel Duran Castellanos, a young lawyer defending exploited farmers in Colombia.

And in 2018 it went to Iranian rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, 57, who is currently on hunger strike while serving a 12-year sentence after defending women arrested for protesting compulsory headscarf laws.