Berlin, 10.11.2022 – Imprisoned since 2017 and sentenced to life imprisonment, Turkish cultural patron and entrepreneur Osman Kavala has been awarded the ifa Award for the Dialogue of Cultures. Numerous representatives of the Turkish diaspora were present at the award ceremony in Berlin.
In a written message, Osman Kavala said: "In this way we can establish truthful dialogue and achieve genuine peace and every individual can feel part of a global community.
This, I believe, requires mental and emotional bridges such as the ones art serves to build by showing the complexity of the human condition while also reminding us of our shared emotions, needs and abilities. I believe, more than anything else, that art could help the dream of a world community shaped by a genuinely universal humanism to become a reality."
In his laudatory speech in recognition of Osman Kavala's achievements, Wolfgang Schäuble said: "Even in free societies, coordination between state and private cultural funding is vital to democratic discourse; in a system that often seeks to appropriate art and culture for itself and its propagandistic purposes, the contribution of patrons like Kavala cannot be valued highly enough. In such repressive systems, the private promotion of art and culture is in demand more than ever as a breeding ground for mature, critical and free thinking."
The President of ifa, Prof. Ulrich Raulff, said: "Ask Osman Kavala. Ask him what it means to promote educational institutions for the underprivileged in a country like Turkey. To stand up for human rights and civil rights. For freedom of assembly, freedom of expression. For the memory of what happened to the Armenians. Ask him what the cost is of being compared to George Soros in his country. And how dangerous that is. And why it ends with you being put in a high-security prison, branded an enemy of the state – hostage to an autocrat."
Gitte Zschoch, Secretary General of ifa, said: "Our work is about people. People who stand up for culture, for freedom, for shared values, for global justice, for the future of a free society in Turkey, Iran, Russia – in all countries of the world. This is why Germany's support is now needed – perhaps more than ever before – for those trusting relationships that have existed for years, the fragile networks involving actors all over the world who are just starting to become empowered. They need the certainty that they are not alone."
Osman Kavala has selected the organisation Rengarenk Umutlar Derneği ("Colourful Hope Association") to receive a grant of 10,000 euros. The association has campaigned for many years for the rights and freedoms of children in south-eastern Turkey. It has set itself the goal of helping children affected by the recent conflicts in the Sur district in the province of Diyarbakır to cope with their traumas.
Since 2009, ifa has recognised personalities and institutions whose social, socio-political or artistic commitment has made an outstanding contribution to the dialogue of cultures. Past award-winners include Igor Levit, pianist, Federica Mogherini, former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Daniel Barenboim, General Music Director of the Berlin State Opera and the artist Yoko Ono. Organisations to have received the award include Human Rights Watch, the counselling centre for victims of digital violence HateAid, Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack and Notre Europe.
About the ifa
Through its networks, projects and research, the ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen operates worldwide as a mediator and actor in support of freedom in art, civil society and scholarship. It creates analogue and digital spaces for encounter, exchange, negotiation and co-creation. The ifa is funded by the Federal Foreign Office, the State of Baden-Württemberg and the City of Stuttgart.
ifa – Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Press & PR
Miriam Kahrmann, presse(at)ifa.de, 0151.26455509