2019 PEN Duygu Asena Award Goes to Saturday Mothers

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PEN Turkey Writers’ Association has given its annual Duygu Asena Women’s Rights Award to the Saturday Mothers.

Duygu Asena, a prominent feminist writer in Turkey, lost her life in 2006. PEN Turkey has been giving the Duygu Asena Award since 2007.

Releasing a statement on the award, the PEN Turkey said the following:

“Metin’s (Göktepe) mother, Hasan’s (Ocak) mother, someone’s sister, someone’s father… For years, they all have been looking for their relatives, their missing ones, those who went and did not come back, those whom they did not hear of, those who were taken at a midnight, those who were killed in unidentified murders, those who were killed in summary executions, those whose body cannot be found. Sometimes those who disappeared are found in the cemetery of the nameless, but most of them are not found, cannot be found.

“Relatives of the disappeared have made a sit-in protest every Saturday at 12.00 p.m. on the Galatasaray Square, İstanbul since May 1995.

“Their sorrow is our sorrow”

“They continued the protests under rain, snow, in winter, at cold to make their voices heard, sharing the problem with the public, raising awareness. The people who faced police intervention most of the time and began to be called the ‘Saturday Mothers’ unfortunately could not hold the 700th gathering. Galatasaray Square was forbidden for the mothers of the missing people. The protests are now done with the support of the Human Rights Association and the press statements are made in front of the Association’s building in Beyoğlu.”

“The PEN Award is given the name of Duygu Asena, one of the most sensitive writers in terms of women’s rights and one of the pioneers of the women’s movement. We thought that it would be very meaningful to give it to the Saturday Mothers, who became prominent as a women’s resistance. We present the 2019 PEN Duygu Asena Award to the Saturday Mothers with respect and admiration.”

The first Duygu Asena Award was given to writer İpek Çalışlar’ book, “Latife Hanım.” Academics Pınar Selek took the award in 2009, academics Büşra Ersanlı and Ayşe Berktay took the award in 2012. In 2014, rights defender Mücella Yapıcı was given the award.

About Duygu Asena

Journalist and writer.

She studied at the Kadıköy Private Girls High School and graduated from the İstanbul University Department of Pedagogics. Her first newspaper article was published on daily Hürriyet in 1972. Between 1992 and 1997, she prepared and hosted the program “Ondan Sonra” (After That) on state-run TRT-2.

She managed the magazines Kadınca, Onyedi, Ev Kadını, Bella, Kim, Negatif. She also worked as a columnist for daily newspapers Milliyet, Cumhuriyet, Vatan.

Her novel “Kadının Adı Yok” (Woman Has No Name) reached a broad mass of people. The book was banned because of “obscenity” in 1988.

She also wrote the following books: Aslında Aşk da Yok (1989); Kahramanlar Hep Erkek (1992); Değişen Bir Şey Yok (1994); Aynada Aşk Vardı (1997); Aslında Özgürsün (2001); Aşk Gidiyorum Demez (2003); Paramparça (2004).

Duygu Asena died on July 30, 2006.