It has been announced that the 2012 Hermann-Kesten Prize is to be awarded to Belarusian journalist, reporter and editor Irina Khalip. A correspondent for the “Novaya Gazeta” in Minsk, Khalip has for many years been widely esteemed for her bold and insightful reporting. Both Khalip and her husband Andrei Sannikov, a rival candidate to Lukashenko in the last presidential elections, were arrested on 19 December 2010, the day of the elections and widespread protest against the rigged results.
Khalip, who was at the time giving an interview for a Russian radio station, was mistreated during the arrest and subsequently kept in complete isolation under house arrest. She was eventually sentenced to two years imprisonment, which she is required to serve in two years, when her son begins school.
At 43 years old, Irina Khalip’s name is seen as a beacon of resistance in Belarus. In the ongoing struggle for human rights, Khalip became a victim and a role model, as well as somebody in critical need of international support.
The €10,000 Prize awarded by the German PEN Centre of PEN International and the Hessian Ministry for Science and Art is to be presented at 7pm on 11 November 2012, at the Darmstadt Staatstheater. Thomas Urban, correspondent of the “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” will be giving the presentation speech. On the morning of the same day, a celebratory exhibition entitled “Secret Message. Forbidden Writing” will be hosted in honour of Khalip at the German Literature Archive in Marbach am Neckar.
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