Strasbourg, 10 October 2023 (TDI): Turkish human rights defender and philanthropist Osman Kavala was Awarded the 2023 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg on October 9, 2023.

Kavala had faced various charges, including espionage and alleged involvement in financing the 2013 protests with the aim of overthrowing the Erdogan government during the 2016 failed coup. 

He was arrested in 2017 and, in 2022, sentenced to life in jail for his involvement in attempting to overthrow the Erdogan government in 2016.

During the award ceremony, Kavala’s wife, Ayse Bugra Kavala, expressed sadness at his absence and emphasized the importance of the prize.

The nominees for the award included Kavala, Polish women’s and human rights activist Justyna Wydrzynska, and Ukrainian rights activist Yevgeniy Zakarov, selected by the five-member nominating committee.

Turkish figure Osman Kavala was the second Turkish individual to win this prestigious Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize.

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The European Court of Human Rights gave proceedings to release Kavala from the jail which were rejected by Turkey.

This led to the Council of Europe initiating infringement proceedings against Ankara resulting in Turkey’s expulsion from the leading European human rights organization. 

The Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize’s total value is €60,000, including a trophy and diploma. This prize has been awarded annually since 2013 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in partnership with the Charta Foundation and with the support of the Czech government.

Past recipients include the jailed Turkish lawyer Murat Arslan in 2017 and the imprisoned Russian opposition leader in 2022.