The Charta 77 Foundation announces 2006 František Kriegel Prize
22. 4. 2006 - Nadace Charty 77, Vlastni
The 2006 František Kriegel Prize has been awarded to
Dr. Yekta Uzunoglu (Geylani), Kurdish physician, publicist and entrepreneur,
“for the many years of his brave struggle for human rights and human dignity, both under the Communist regime, when he was expelled from Czechoslovakia in 1979, and after its overthrow in November 1989, when he was arrested in 1994, held for a full 31 months in custody, and for the next almost 12 years urging the Czech post-Communist judiciary to give him a fair trial and clear his name.”
The František Kriegel Prize award for civil courage is awarded annually since 1987 when established in Stockholm, on April 10, commemorating the birthday of František Kriegel. The Prize is highlighting civil courage, undertaken irrespective of his/her private benefits and the possible risks. It goes to individuals who put their social status, careers, and at times even lives at risk when they foster ideas and goals expressing humanistic ideals, democracy and human rights. Dr. František Kriegel was one of the most prominent politicians of Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring in 1968 and the only Czechoslovak leader who, while abducted to Moscow, rejected in the Kremlin to undersign the Moscow dictate.
Jury of the František Kriegel Prize:
Jan Dus, Martin Groman, František Janouch, Erazim Kohák, Miloš Rejchrt (chairman of the Jury), Břetislav Rychlík, Jiřina Šiklová, Jaroslav Veis.
As is the tradition, the Prize will be delivered in the Mirror Chapel of the Klementinum historical Complex on Thursday, June 1, 2006. The exact time will be announced later.
Contact: Charta 77 Foundation, Melantrichova 5, CZ-110 00 Prague 1, tel.: 224 214 452
Who is Dr. Yekta Uzunoglu (Geylani )?
Born May 10, 1953, as a third child of lawyer Ahmet Uzunoglu.
Already as a secondary school student, and similar to all his family, he was actively involved in various movements that struggled for the basic rights of the Kurds in Turkey.
1970: Having completed his secondary school, Uzunoglu arrived to Paris.
1971: Studies of the French language at the Institut de Touraine.
March 1971: The military coup in Turkey meant, for Uzunoglu as well as for others, the impossibility to transfer money from Turkey to finance university studies abroad.
1973-1979: Studies at the Faculty of Universal Medicine of Charles University in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
Close friendships with individuals persecuted and discriminated against from among the Czech followers of the Adventist Church.
1975: In coordination with professor of medicine Pavel Martasek, lectures on the “land of the Bible” held in Adventist chapels throughout Czechoslovakia.
1975: Participation in a hunger strike at the Embassy of the Kingdom of Sweden in Prague, where Kurdish students protested against the policy of Czechoslovak leader Gustav Husák that included extraditions of Kurdish students from Czechoslovakia to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
1976: With the help from friends from among the Adventist Church in Czechoslovakia, Uzunoglu established clandestine Kurdish publishing house Ararat where he published a number of books, booklets, posters, and leaflets.
1977: Uzunoglu refused to pay the bribes demanded by Czechoslovak clerks for the prolongation of his visa, and in result tasted vexation from the country’s authorities.
1978: Co-founder of the Kurdish Crescent, a parallel of the Red Cross.
Autumn 1979: Expelled from Czechoslovakia and arriving to Paris on research scholarship at the Institut Pasteur. Uzunoglu received moral support from the Association France-Kurdistan, among the members of which were: philosopher J.P. Sartre, A. Kastler, L. Schwartz, G. Chaliand, and S. de Beauvoir.
December 1979: Uzunoglu, accompanied by prominent German law professor Mönch, was received by representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, as a delegation chairman of the Kurdish Crescent.
1979: Involved in the Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) organization, at a time when it was being established.
March 1980: Leaving for Iran as a physician delegated by the Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) organization, along with Czech doctor Vladimir Štich. Uzunoglu set up a number of field hospitals in Iran.
October 1980: Working in Iraq as a physician of the Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders).
November 1980: The government of Turkey seized Uzunoglu’s passport. Films shot on his and other doctors’ work in Iran and Iraq were broadcast at that time by 32 television stations throughout the world.
1981: Uzunoglu received the status of political prisoner in the Federal Republic of Germany, and studied the German language.
1982: Working as a doctor in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Starting to cooperate with the Amnesty International and the GfbV (Society for Threatened Peoples) in Germany; lectures delivered on the human rights violations and the military dictatorship in Turkey, on Ayatollah Khomeini’s Iran, and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq; publication of dozens of articles on these issues in different countries.
1983: Co-founder of the first Kurdish institute ever, the Institut Kurde de Paris.
1983: Uzunoglu established a similar body in the Federal Republic of Germany, the Kurdisches Institut, and became its director. The Kurdisches Institut worked under the auspices of a number of world’s prominent personalities, such as French mathematician Laurent Schwarz, holder of the Nobel Prize for physics Alfred Kastler, Belgium’s parliament speaker and Leuven University president Eduard Leemans, holders of the Nobel Prize for literature Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass, German Green Party’s leading member Petra Kelly, and many others.
1986: Participation in the establishment of the Kurdish Library in New York, and taking part in numerous seminars in the U.S.
1986: Stripped off the citizenship of Turkey.
1987: Author of the project of Kurdish broadcasting at the Radio Monte Carlo that has worldwide reception. The project was implemented with the help from a Protestant church, at a time when the Kurdish language was banned in Turkey.
1987-1988: Lectures held throughout Europe on subjects related to Kurds, human rights, cultural rights of minorities, rights of the Roma, and the need to provide psychotherapy to survivors of torture from countries under dictatorship.
From late 1988 on: Uzunoglu became the target of attacks by Islamist fanatics from Iran and Turkey, a fascist party in Turkey, and supporters of Saddam Hussein.
Late 1988: Return to the profession of doctor. Uzunoglu also set up a trade company that could help him, as he had hoped, in funding his narrow-scope publications.
1989: First conflict with foreign trade trusts in Czechoslovakia, in which he exposed that some of them had been financing terrorist activities in West Europe and Turkey.
1990: Based on a request from his friends in Czechoslovakia’s Charter 77 circles, Uzunoglu entered an active fight against criminals engaged in human trafficking. He published an article on the subject in the Czech weekly Respekt, No. 4 / 1990.
September 1990: Uzunoglu set up a branch of his Germany-based trade company in Czechoslovakia.
1991: In Prague’s Culture Palace, Uzunoglu organized a series of international seminars on the economic reforms in Czechoslovakia, with a frequent lecturer there being today’s president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus. Uzunoglu funded these events from his private resources.
1991: Uzunoglu published dozens of articles in the Czechoslovak press on defending human rights in the world.
1992: Uzunoglu substantially contributed to paving the way toward a bilateral agreement between Czechoslovakia and Turkey on combating the organized crime.
1993: For a first time in 23 years, Uzunoglu was allowed to visit his relatives in Turkey.
1993: Co-author of the book “Economic Prospects of the Czech Republic,” along with a number of leading Czech economists.
1993: Establishment of new trade and production companies in the Czech Republic, Germany, and Turkey.
August 1994: Agreement signed with the Skoda Praha company, entitling a firm owned by Uzunoglu to become the exclusive representative of Skoda Praha for all the Middle East.
September 13, 1994: On charges that have never been proved, Uzunoglu was arrested by members of the organized-crime unit of the Czech police.
March 12, 1996: Released from the custody in Prague’s Ruzyne jail. Uzunoglu spent the total of two and a half years in custody, with the last half year being held upon consent of the Czech High Court. While in custody, Uzunoglu’s civil rights have been repeatedly violated, and he was even maltreated.
Autumn 1996: Uzunoglu was granted the citizenship of Germany, receiving thus an demonstration of solidarity, especially as Germany delivered the citizenship document to Prague’s Ruzyne jail.
Spring 1997: Released from the jail in Ruzyne.
May 1997: Visiting his family in Turkey but prevented to leave the country in a period from June to October 1997.
1998: Continuing to file complaints and initiate charges to prosecute individual members of the Czech police, the Supreme Prosecutors Office, and others who stood behind the mismanagements in his case. During the same period, Uzunoglu’s house was burnt in arson and his cars repeatedly exposed to deliberate damage.
1998-2006: Uzunoglu has continued to fight for receiving a fair trial in the case that would result in nullifying the charges against him.
2006, March: An open letter of 13 Czech personalities “We accuse” addressed to the Czech Parliament, Senate, Government and Judicial Authorities on Uzunoglu case.
Dr. Yekta Uzunoglu(Geylani) is married and has two children.
MUDr. František Kriegel was born in Stanislaw (today Ivano-Frankovsk) in 1908 to an Austrian father and a Jewish mother. Due to his Jewish origin, he was prohibited from studying at a Polish university (numerus clausus). He graduated from the Medical Faculty of the German Charles University in Prague. In 1935, he joined the international brigades in Spain. During 1940-1945, he fought the Japanese army in China and Burma. He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945.
During 1960s, he was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, a Member of Parliament, and Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. In 1968, he was elected Chairman of the National Front and a member of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. On 21 August 1968, he was arrested and forcefully abducted to Moscow. He was the only Czechoslovak politician who refused to sign the Moscow Dictate. A signatory of Charta 77, he died in 1979 persecuted by authorities and spied on by the police.
Past recipients of the František Kriegel Prize include:
Václav Kadlec, Jaroslav Šabata, Jan Dus and Josef Zvěřina, Jiří Ruml and Miroslav Jasinski, Peter Mariánek, Petr Pithart, Igor Blaževič and Jaromír Štětina, Milena Hübschmannová, Vlado Čech, Josef Vavroušek and Karel Kryl, František Stíbal, Kumar Viswanathan, Václav Trojan, Jakub Polák, Stanislav Milota and Miloš Rejchrt, Miroslav Opatřil, František Lízna and Tomáš Vlasák, Petra Procházková and symbolically to Ms. Marie Machnig, born Halke, the daughter of Otto Halke.