Press release - DC152(2013)

Elmas Arus, Turkish film director of Roma origin, awarded the Raoul Wallenberg Prize of the Council of Europe

Strasbourg, 02.12.2013 – The jury of the Council of Europe Raoul Wallenberg Prize awarded its first-ever prize to Elmas Arus, a young Roma film director from Turkey. The 2014 prize recognises Ms Arus’ outstanding contributions to raising awareness about the conditions of the Roma people in Turkey and elsewhere. She has sought to improve their situation, particularly that of Roma women, and to bring discrimination against them to the forefront of political debate.

“The hard work carried out by Elmas Arus, with courage and perseverance, is a truly impressive contribution to the fight against deep-rooted prejudice and discrimination suffered by Roma populations all over our continent,” said Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, as he announced the jury’s decision.

Between 2001 and 2010, Ms Arus and a group of volunteers from her university visited more than 400 Roma neighbourhoods in 38 cities in Turkey. They produced 360 hours of documentation, and created an hour-long documentary on the challenges of the different Roma groups in Turkey. Subsequently, Ms Arus established the Zero Discrimination Organisation, which has paved the way for other similar groups: there are now over 200 Roma associations in Turkey. Her work has played a crucial role in the elaboration of the Turkish government’s “Roma opening” policy of 2009.

The award ceremony of the prize -which amounts to 10.000 euros- will take place on 17 January 2014 at the Council of Europe headquarters in Strasbourg.

Contact: Can Fisek, Media Relations division, Spokespersons' service, Tel. +33 3 88 41 30 41 

Council of Europe Directorate of Communications
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11