The First Raoul Wallenberg Prize Awarded to Turkish Film Director of Roma Origin
24.01.2014 / 14:51
On 17 January 2014 the historically first Raoul Wallenberg Prize with the reward of 10.000 EUR was granted to a young female director Elmas Arus. Arus received the prize for her outstanding contributions to raising awareness about the conditions of the Roma people in Turkey and elsewhere.
The prize bears the name of a Swedish businessman who rescued thousands of Jews from Nazi-occupied Hungary during World War II. He disappeared after being detained by Russian forces in Budapest in 1945. As a reminder of Wallenberg’s bravery the Council of Europe together with Swedish government and Hungarian parliament award this prize to individuals, groups or organizations for their exceptional achievements in the humanitarian field.
This year‘s winner, Elmas Arus, with her crew of volunteers visited about 400 Roma neighbourhoods in 38 turkish cities during 2001 and 2010. As a result, she created an hour-long documentary about everyday problems of Roma communities all around Turkey. The aim of her project was to improve the situation of Roma and especially Roma women, and to introduce this issue into the Turkish government’s agenda.
After she finished her project, Arus founded one of the pilot Roma organizations Zero Discrimination Organization, showing the way to other similar organizations. Nowadays there is about 200 organizations in Turkey that deal with anti-discrimination of Roma. Also her work played a significant role in creating a Turkish government‘s national strategy called Roma Opening in 2009.