2009 Living Together Award Winners Revealed

Those who supported the culture of living together harmoniously during 2009 

Journalists and Writers Foundation President Mustafa Yeşil and author Hilmi Yavuz gave opening addresses at the meeting which was attended by approximately 2000 guests in addition to such important persons as Parliament Chairman Mehmet Ali Şahin; Head of the Women and Family Department, Minister Selma Aliye Kavaf; Istanbul Governor Muammer Güler; PM Reha Çamuroğlu; journalist Ümit Fırat; Hasan Cemal; Prof. Toktamış Ateş; Prof. Hüseyin Hatemi; author Elif Şafak; Hırant Dink’s wife, Rakel Dink; Hasan Doğan; Ertuğrul Sağlam; Armenian Arch Bishop, Aram Ateşyan; PM Edibe Sözen; Zaman Newspaper Publishing Director Ekrem Dumanlı; Taraf writer Elif Çakır; journalist/writer Ferhan Kentel; businessman Fettah Tamince; Hidayet Karaca; İlhan İşbilen; Israeli Chief Consulate Moshe Kamhi; Nazife Şişman; singer Orhan Gencebay and his wife Sevim Emre; Father Setrus Gülce representing Assyrian Ancient Metropolit Yusuf Çetin; Sibel Eraslan; Umit Kardaş; Ahmet Turan Alkan; singer and film producer Mahsun Kırmızıgül; Saba Tümer; Selim Aviyente representing the Jewish community; businessman Remzi Gür; musician Ahmet Çelenk and Şahin Öze. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan sent a message of congratulations.

In the musicıans section of the program which was hosted by Kadir Çöpdemir, there were first individual performances of the flute, guitar, clarinet, bass guitar, bağlama, violin, zither and rhythm selections followed by a group performance of the lyrics, “if the whole world believed this and were united.” The musical program reflected Turkish culture well.

The 2009 Living Together Awards were presented to TESEV in the area of Scientific Work; to Elif Şafak in Literature; in the Media to Hasan Cemal, the Taraf newspaper and the Open Radio; in the Social area for model behavior and/or initiative to Rakel Dink; in the Visual and Audible Arts and Stage Arts to the film, I Saw the Sun, and to Kalan Music; and in the field of Sports to Ertuğrul Sağlam. The Special Jury Award went to the Football Federation’s former President, the deceased Hasan Doğan. His wife, Aysel Doğan accepted Hasan Doğan’s award.

Making the opening address at the ceremonies, Journalists and Writers Foundation President, Mustafa Yeşil, made clear the emphasis of the day with theıs sentences: “When our people no longer remain subject to knowledge and thought pollution and act according to their consciences –today just like yesterday- we see that they act with common sense, support what is right and accept everyone as they are. Prejudice, polarization and separation are not teachings of our faith and cultural world. The antidote to prejudice is dialogue, mutual acceptance and communication. Its fruit is living together harmoniously. Today more than emotional brotherhood, we need environments of brotherhood that have been nurtured by means of logical principles and that have been kneaded with determination and patience.”

Taking the podium after the foundation president, Hilmi Yavuz stated in his talk in relation to the ceremonies, “We determined the recipients of the awards together with our friends on the jury. This kind of award expresses our taking a stand against those who are indifferent to differences. Agreement and solidarity and togetherness with differences have always been a part of our culture. This culture should be expanded with this kind of activity. We hope that the continuation of similar activities will serve this purpose.”

Recipients of the awards and presenters of the awards expressed their thoughts and feelings with these words:

*Elif Şafak: I want to thank literature lovers and the jury members who chose me.

*TESEV President Can Peker: This reward belongs to the institute. Everyone at the institute worked day and night and they tried to make a contribution to Turkey. I congratulate them.

*Ömer Madra from the Open Radio: The Open Radio is fifteen years old. In a busy place like Turkey it is important to make broadcasting without straying from principles. This is one of the most valuable awards we have received. The reason for our deserving this award is the reason for our existing 15 years. It is the same space where people from different nations in this region dry their laundry. The open radio takes a stand without hesitating to take a stand on this or that side. In a letter written by Hırant Dink to his wife he begins, “Hey my beloved, hey my one and only,” and it mentions his feelings about living together harmoniously. In response his wife Rakel said, “He ushered in a new millennium in Turkey. Because of him basic principles changed; laws and taboos changed. He paid a price on this road. This exaltation occurs by seeing the person across from you like yourself.” We also give value to life by knowing the person across from us as our self. We are striving to present future generations with a world they can live in like a man. We do not forego this effort which makes life meaningful.

*Hasan Cemal: Before anything else, I would like to thank the members of the jury. I give importance to this organization having been made. I know from my own experience that the culture of living together harmoniously is a difficult one. Initially I did not accept this culture of living together, but many years later I gradually saw how important concepts like democracy and human rights are. Our country will continue on this path.

*Taraf newspaper General Publishing Coordinator Yıldıray Uğurk: I greet you with the salaam of all Taraf writers. We have gained many enemies during three years. Turkey is changing. Three full years have passed. Our friends usually love us from a distance. This award showed that our friends also love us close up. Thank you.

*Oral Çalışlar (He accepted Rakel Dink’s award): Hırant was a richness for this country. We hope for a society where peace and reconciliation dominate and one where people are equal, but different. Hırant was a person who changed our lives. His wife Rakel took over this mission. We learned from them that differences can live together.

* Kalan Music General Coordinator Hasan Saltık:

*Toktamış Ateş (He gave the Kalan Music’s award): In spite of being ill, I came here not to miss this pleasure. Sounds and colors that you cannot reach are not from you. Hasan Saltık and Kalan Music have given us great opportunities. I am grateful to him and I wish him success.

*Mahsun Kırmızıgül: It is a special honor to receive this award from someone I truly love. My life and art have always been next to brotherhood. We dedicated the film to the people’s brotherhood.

*Orhan Gencebay: I love Mahsun like a father. “You have made your father happy; may God bless you my son.” We have to live together. I have been together with Sevim Hanim for 36 years. Sometimes there are difficulties, but they only last 15 minutes. We were separated for 12 days, but we made up in the end. I really liked the way the music was presented at the beginning. At first they were separate, but they later joined together. They were not seen, but they were there. If we begin to understand someone, then at that time we become happy that we have understood them. In order to find happiness, first we have to be ourselves. Newton’s wheel is made up of many, many different colors. When it turns, it becomes one color. This is togetherness and brotherhood.

*Aysel Doğan (Hasan Doğan’s wife): I am very excited. I thank you on behalf of my children and my husband for seeing beloved Hasan Doğan worthy of this award.

*Aliye Kavaf, Minister Responsible for Women and Family: He was a person who captured our hearts with his human traits.  I ask mercy for him from God.

*Ertuğrul Sağlam: I congratulate the Foundation for giving awards to those who are successful and honest. I give my respects to those who could not be here to receive their awards. As one who believes in the importance of team work in football, I accept this on behalf of our players. This brings responsibility. From now on we will play sports with the awareness that sports mean peace, friendship and brotherhood.

*Parliament Chairman Mehmet Ali Şahin: I give greetings to everyone. I am very happy to be here with such distinguished persons. There was both joy and sadness during the presentation of awards. We remembered Hasan Doğan. God willing, Ertuğrul will recıve big trophies in the future. Living together harmoniously is everyone’s basic desire. I saw different flowers along the public roads. In spite of having different colors and fragrances, there is no fighting among them. Let’s accept each other’s differences in harmony and live together. Soon we will celebrate the Turkish Parliament’s 90th anniversary. On the other hand, we will remember Turkey’s independence. When Mustafa Kemal was coming from Sivas to Ankara, the tire of the vehicle he was riding in blew out and they filled it with a rag and continued on their way. Turkey has come a long way since then. We have a culture of living together with differences. We have to try to live and develop this further. Even if we have differences, we will live together. I want to give special thanks to the Foundation for bringing us together.