US Ambassador to Turkey Francis J. Ricciardone on Thursday night hosted a reception attended a broad array of guests in honor of a deputy from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) for a recent award she received.
In addition to CHP deputy Şafak Pavey, the recipient of the “International Women of Courage Award” presented by the US Department of State, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu and CHP Deputy Chairman Gürsel Tekin also attended the reception.
Among Ricciardone’s other guests were the widow of Turkish-Armenian journalist Hrant Dink, Rakel Dink. A years-long case on the murder of Dink recently ended with a “frustrating” conclusion, according to the Dink family. The family and their lawyers say the judiciary failed to shed light on the masterminds behind the 2007 assassination of the journalist.
Journalist Nedim Şener, who was recently released from prison after spending nearly a year in jail in a coup plot case, and his wife, Vecide, were also among Ricciardone’s invitees.
In February of last year the US ambassador received a barrage of criticism from the Turkish government when he said the US was trying to make sense of Turkey’s stated support for freedom of the press and the detention of journalists. “On the one hand there exists a stated policy supporting a free press. On the other hand, journalists are put in detention. We are trying to make sense of this,” Ricciardone had said. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused him of being a “novice” in Turkish matters.
Two deputies from Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), Sırrı Sakık and Hasip Kaplan, also attended Thursday’s reception amidst tensions in Turkey’s Southeast over recent Nevruz celebrations.
Pavey was honored by the US State Department for her courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, at a ceremony in Washington earlier this month.
Ten remarkable women from around the world who have played a significant role in the struggle for women’s rights were honored at the State Department and Pavey, the first disabled female deputy to be elected to the Turkish Parliament, was honored with an award for championing the rights of the disabled in Turkey. Ricciardone said in his speech at the reception that he wants to congratulate all the women for their accomplishments and contributions.
“Through her courage and efforts, Şafak Pavey is a source of inspiration for not only Turkey and women, but for all in the world,” Ricciardone said. He added that Pavey, whom he described as “an outstanding human being,” is the first woman in Turkey who has been presented with this award. Pavey said she accepted the award on behalf of all Turkish women with brave hearts.