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Imprisoned MP among winners of 2023 European Prize for Architecture

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Can Atalay, an opposition lawmaker from the Workers Party of Turkey (TİP) who has been incarcerated since April 2022, is among a group of Turkish architects and human rights activists who received the 2023 European Prize for Architecture awarded by The Chicago Athenaeum and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies, the Archinect news website reported.

Atalay is one of seven defendants sentenced to 18 years by an İstanbul court in April 2022 in a trial concerning the anti-government Gezi Park protests of 2013, which erupted over government plans to demolish Gezi Park in Taksim. After an appellate court ruled in December that the April verdict “complied with the law,” the defense appealed the case at Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals.

Atalay was elected as a deputy in the May parliamentary elections, but his detention did not end despite his parliamentary immunity.

Architect Ayşe Mücella Yapıcı, urban planner Tayfun Kahraman and lawmaker and attorney for the Chamber of Turkish Engineers and Architects Atalay are the prize’s 18th, 19th and 20th laureates, respectively. Yapıcı and Kahraman are also in prison on charges of “aiding in an attempt to overthrow the government” tied to their involvement in the 2013 Gezi Park protests.

Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, president and CEO of The Chicago Athenaeum, said their status is the product of a “years-long campaign of blatant political persecution” waged by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan against his critics.

A formal ceremony for the laureates will be held in their absence on Friday, Sept. 15, in Athens.

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