Author: Andy Carling
As the Libyan regime turns its military on its own people, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is coming under pressure to return an honour bestowed on him last November, the Al-Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights. The award includes $50,000.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez are among the recipients of the award.
The prize is “awarded every year to those who have “distinctively contributed to rendering an outstanding human service and has achieved great actions in defending Human rights”. The al-Gaddafi Prize website adds, “The Prize categorically believes that freedom is an indivisible natural right for Man ; it is not a gift or grace from anybody, and that safeguarding it is a general human responsibility.”
At the award ceremony in Tripoli, the Turkish Premier said, “You can be sure that this award will encourage our struggle for human rights in regional and global sense,” adding “The only thing we want in our region and in the globe is peace and justice. If there is prosperity in the region, every state will benefit. All regional states would benefit from peace, harmony and stability. Everyone must be sure of one thing: Whatever we want for ourselves, we also want for others.”
A Turkish NGO, Young Civilians is asking for the prize to be returned. The group praised the premier’s earlier stance on the unrest in Egypt, but said, “Return the Gadhafi Human Rights Award immediately. The slaughter continuing in Libya will be on our heads as long as this prize remains to stay on the shelves of the Prime Ministry.”
It is said that the reason for the comparative silence from Ankara is because of the large number of Turkish citizens trapped in Libya and there are concerns that they could be used as hostages.