Since 1964, the Theodor Heuss Foundation is engaged in keeping alive the memory of Theodor Heuss, a foremost Liberal and Democrat, who used to be the first Federal President of (then Western) Germany after World War II. Every year, a “Theodor Heuss Prize” and “Theodor Heuss Medals” are devoted to personalities, who have been extraordinary representatives of freedom and democracy. This year’s laureate, the British historian and publicist Timothy Garton Ash, was honoured in an award ceremony that took place in Stuttgart on April, 1st. Dr. Ash was awarded for his outstanding achievements and the enormous personal commitment to freedom of speech and thought in a globalized world. Furthermore, the foundation awarded Theodor Heuss Medals to four out-standing personalities and freedom activists. Among them is the famous Turkish writer, physicist and human rights activist Aslı Erdoğan.
Ms. Erdoğan was awarded for her exemplary civil involvement and commitment to democracy, human rights and freedom of speech. She especially raised her voice for the rights of the Kurdish minority and for women in general. For the first time, the medal had to be awarded in absence due to political reasons. In August 2016, Ms. Erdoğan had been imprisoned because of her cooperation with the pro-Kurdish newspaper “Özgür Gündem”. On December, 29th, 2016, she was released from provisional custody. As her trial is ongoing, Ms. Erdoğan is barred from leaving Turkey.
In a video statement, recorded in cooperation with FNF Turkey, Aslı Erdoğan thanked for the award, which she dedicated to all persecuted writers, journalists and human rights activists. She stated that freedom is one of the most endangered values. She declared to have “learned very bitterly that freedom is a word that can never be silenced”.
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