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Prominent Kurdish lawyer among recipients of prestigious Swedish award

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Eren Keskin, a prominent Kurdish lawyer and human rights activist, is among three female recipients of Sweden’s Olof Palme Prize 2023, according to the website of the Olof Palme Memorial Fund, named after a Swedish prime minister who was assassinated in 1986.

Marta Chumalo, a feminist, gender expert and psychologist from Ukraine, and Narges Mohammadi, a journalist and human rights activist from Iran, are the two other recipients.

“For their efforts in the fight to secure women’s freedom, in an age when human rights are threatened by war, violence and oppression. Throughout their lives and through their actions, these three women, along with many of their sisters in struggle, have inspired others and paved the way for courageous young women and men to continue fighting for the fundamental human rights of all people,” said the website of the memorial fund.

Keskin is a human rights lawyer who has spent decades defending those discriminated against in her country: ethnic minorities, LGBTQI+ people and refugees, the memorial fund said, adding that she has been subjected to accusations and death threats as well as hundreds of prosecutions over the years and imprisoned for her beliefs, with Amnesty International declaring her a prisoner of conscience.

In her early career as a lawyer, Keskin became involved with Turkey’s Human Rights Association (İHD), the first nongovernmental organization established after a military coup in 1980. Today the IHD is a prominent rights organization and is frequently targeted by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as a “terrorism-supporting” organization.

Keskin served as president of the İHD’s Istanbul branch for years. She is also a founding member of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (TIHV), a well-known organization providing treatment and rehabilitation for torture survivors, and the Foundation for Society and Legal Studies (TOHAV), which investigates human rights violations in the country.

The İHD congratulated Keskin for receiving the prize, saying their co-chairperson is one of the three female rights activists who have been awarded it.

Sven Olof Joachim Palme was a Swedish politician and statesman who served as prime minister of Sweden from 1969 to 1976 and 1982 to 1986. Palme led the Swedish Social Democratic Party from 1969 until his assassination in 1986.

He played an important role in Swedish social democracy and the development of Sweden’s welfare society. He had a strong commitment to international freedom and to the equal value of people and therefore became a well-known and much-talked-about politician around the world.

An annual Olof Palme Prize is awarded for an outstanding achievement in the spirit of Olof Palme, to be chosen by the fund’s board.

The prize consists of a award and $100,000.

An award ceremony will be held at the Stockholm Concert Hall on Feb. 1.

The ceremony will be also be broadcast live on the memorial fund’s website www.palmefonden.se

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