Turkish newspapers criticise of ANC leader Nelson Mandela for refusing to accept Turkey’s peace award


ANC President Nelson Mandela

Thursday, 14 May 1992

On 14 May 1992, Nelson Mandela, leader of the African National Congress, was subjected to harsh criticism and utterances verging on libel, due to the position he took in declining to accept  a peace prize, named after Turkey's national hero, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, awarded to him by the state of Turkey.

According to Mandela's spokesperson at the time, Mandela assumed this stance due to the human rights violations committed by Turkey against the Kurdish minority living in Turkey, especially with regard to Kurdish aspirations toward a independent Kurdish homeland. Mandela however later relented and in 1999, he accepted the award. The situation of the Kurdish people in Turkey however remains virtually unchanged, as recent developments such as the toppling of the Saddam regime and the invasion of Afghanistan has further destabilised the situation. It remains to be seen if the support given by the largely Kurdish Northern Alliance to the American led invasion of Iraq improves their situation.


  1. Nelson Mandela (online), available at: http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org [Accessed 30 April 2010]
  2. Turkey and South Africa: Toward the Second Decade (online), available at: http://www.sam.gov.tr [Accessed 30 April 2010
  3. ]Statement on the Ataturk Award given to Nelson Mandela (online), available at: http://www.anc.org.za [Accessed 30 April 2010]
  4. The Kurdish Independence in context of the International Relations and The Turkish Syrian Iran alliance against Kurdistan (online), available at: http://www.efrin.net [Accessed 30 April 2010]

Last updated : 14-May-2013

This article was produced by South African History Online on 16-Mar-2011

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