Three Atatürk Awards will be presented: the Free Press and Democracy Award to Hon. Ekşi; and awards in absentia to Turgut Özakman, a prominent writer, historian and lawyer; and Ms. Muazzez İlmiye Çığ, a well-known historian and archaeologist. At this event, the Ataturk Society will also recognize journalists who are under arrest as a result of systematic assault on the freedom of the press by the ruling Islamic-leaning AK Party.
Scores of journalists are jailed under entirely ambiguous or fabricated charges in Turkey. The number of journalists in prison has nearly doubled, from 57 journalists in 2011 to 95 in 2012.*
Since the AKP government took power in Turkey in 2003, Turkey gradually became the country with the highest number of decisions for violations in the fields of freedom of expression and press. Turkey is followed by France with ten violations whereas this figure exceeds two hundred for Turkey.**
The Ataturk Society, founded in 1995 is an apolitical, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the ideals of Kemal Atatürk. These ideals call for a secular state governed by science and reason, rather than superstition and dogma, and one that assures the equality of genders; freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and the independence of the judiciary .
* Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), April 2012.
** The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), Nov. 2011.