Every two years since 1991, the city of Osnabrück has awarded the Peace Prize named after the world-famous writer Erich Maria Remarque, who was born in Osnabrück. This year, the award will be presented for the 14th time.
The Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize, endowed with 25,000 euros, will be awarded to the Turkish journalist and writer Aslı Erdoğan, primarily for her work as a journalist and writer, for her reporting on the effects of the political conditions in Turkey on the people and their everyday lives. The prize is awarded in particular also in view of the recently published essay collection Nicht einmal das Schweigen gehört uns noch (Knaus-Verlag, 2017), which contains a selection of her essays that cannot currently be published in Turkey. Here, her narrative texts are less concretely political and more "seismographic of the pain of the victims, the atrocities they suffered," according to the jury. Sensitive, poetic, and blunt, her writing focuses on discrimination against women, and she also addresses issues of genocide, violence, oppression, torture, and war.
"Aslı Erdoğan devotes her essays to all the issues that make up the tensions within Turkey but also between Turkey and Europe. If not even silence is still ours, what about language and thinking?! She writes along the obstacles that make us realize that achievements are not self-evident. In this respect, the special prize for the 'Pulse of Europe' initiative completes this year's award ceremony," said Mayor Wolfgang Griesert.
"With Aslı Erdoğan, we are honoring a writer and journalist who, in her texts, presents events from a female perspective that is completely unknown to me. This makes it clear that women suffer from violence and oppression in a way that men can hardly imagine," said jury chairman Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Lücke, President of the University of Osnabrück.
Aslı Erdoğan makes the reader feel the humiliation and despair of those affected, but also the strength and courage, writing entirely in the spirit of Remarque:
"People must see and hear what is happening to individuals because their imagination cannot do justice to the general facts; it cannot count. A catastrophe claims five million victims, and that means nothing - the number is empty. But if I show them a single person in his perfection, his confidence, his hopes and his difficulties, and then show them how he dies, it is inscribed in their memory forever." (Erich Maria Remarque, 1946)
With this award, the jury particularly emphasizes the sanctity of free press reporting and the need for uncensored publication of information and opinions, especially in view of the increasing influence of governments and politics on media reporting worldwide. Aslı Erdoğan, born in Istanbul in 1967, studied physics and worked at the European nuclear research center CERN in Geneva from 1991 to 1993. She wrote poems and short stories as a child, publishing one at the age of 10. In 1990, she won third place in the Turkish literary competition Yunus Nadi Prize with her first novella. From 1994 to 1996, she lived in Brazil because she felt threatened in Turkey. Her first novel The Miraculous Mandarin) was published in 1996, and her breakthrough as a writer came with her third book, The City with the Red Tippet. From 1998 to 2001, she wrote columns for the left-liberal daily Radikal, reporting on conditions in Turkish prisons, torture, violence against women and state repression against Kurds. She is a member of P.E.N. and has been in Zurich repeatedly as "writer in residence." Since 2013, she has written for the Kurdish-Turkish daily Özgür Gündem, which was closed in August 2016 on the grounds that it was spreading propaganda for the PKK. Aslı Erdoğan was arrested on Aug. 16, 2016, as part of the so-called "purges" following the failed military coup in Turkey on July 15, 2016, along with 22 other journalists from the newspaper. She was released at the end of December 2016, but was subject to an exit ban. On September 7, she surprisingly received her passport back and was thus able to leave Turkey for the awarding of the Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize. At the moment she lives in Germany.
The association "Pulse of Europe" receives the special prize of €5,000 for advocating for a Europe "in which respect for human dignity, the rule of law, free thought and action, tolerance and respect are self-evident foundations of the community" (pulseofeurope.eu). In view of past and upcoming elections in the USA, Europe and Germany, but also in view of the developments in Turkey, the jury supports the concern of "Pulse of Europe" to preserve the European Union as an alliance to secure peace.
"Pulse of Europe" was initially founded in Frankfurt in 2016 as a citizens' initiative and has been a registered association since April 2017. The movement was initiated due to the increasing success of nationalist and populist movements worldwide, the election results in the UK (Brexit) and USA (Trump), and in view of the elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany. Since February 2017, rallies have been held every Sunday at 2 p.m. in public squares in participating cities. In April 2017, about 50,000 people took part in 16 European countries (in addition to Germany in Albania, Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Spain, Austria, Ukraine) and over 80 cities. The association is deliberately non-partisan, they want to create "a space in which Europe's citizens can develop ideas and solutions for the undisputed problems that exist, independently of political guidelines [...]" (PoE).
For more information, visit www.pulseofeurope.eu.
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