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Ramy Essam has been awarded Premio Grup Yorum Prize

Egyptian rock artist and human rights defender Ramy Essam has been awarded the first Premio Grup Yorum Prize by Premio Tenco in Italy.

On November 19th Club Tenco, the most prestigious songwriting festival in Europe, has honored Ramy Essam with the Premio Grup Yorum award in Rome, Italy.

Premio Tenco & Club Tenco

Premio Tenco is a cultural association founded in Sanremo, Italy, in 1972 and dedicated to the promotion and diffusion of songwriting. Premio Tenco organizes a yearly festival Club Tenco that translates into a week of concerts, meetings, dialogues and presentations of artistic projects. Among the many international artists who have received the Tenco prize are Leonard Cohen, Léo Ferré, Pablo Milanés, Tom Waits and Laurie Anderson.

Premio Grup Yorum Award

In 2020, Premio Tenco announced a new award dedicated to the Turkish band Grup Yorum, to honor the struggle carried out by the band members of which three died from hunger strike in Turkey in 2020, and to reward other artists whom, with their music, have had to carry the struggles of free expression in their countries.

On November 19th, 2020, Egyptian rock artist and human rights defender Ramy Essam was awarded the first Premio Grup Yorum prize for his struggle in Egypt against oppression, for his path of courage, his continuing work for freedom of the people and for democracy; and for his ability to inspire with great courage on the path that led into exile and unfortunately, led to the imprisonment of comrades linked to him.

Club Tenco:

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Thank you Club Tenco for highlighting freedom of expression and supporting the artists who are struggling for it. I am honored to be the first one to receive the Premio Grup Yorum award. Grup Yorum’s story of resistance is one of a kind, and an inspiration for us all.

I dedicate this prize to the people who are suffering from the consequences of the regime’s oppression.

- Egyptian poet Galal El-Behairy who wrote a book of poetry and because of that has been sentenced to 3 years in prison in the Military Court.

- Egyptian web designer Mustafa Gamal who has been jailed for 1000 days innocent of any offences.

- Egyptian director and photographer Shady Habash who died in Egyptian jail 7 months ago at the age of 24, because of medical negligence. He was kept in custody without a verdict for almost 800 days.

And there are many others.

Art is the force that dictators can’t stop and one single song can shake a regime. Music can really make a difference – Grup Yorum is one of the best proofs of that. Music is the most powerful peaceful weapon In the world.

By listening to music we keep it alive, and we resist the oppressor trying to silence the artist. By reading and sharing the poetry of imprisoned writers we keep their voices alive and heard.

It is clear what happened to the Italian student Giulio Regeni who was murdered in Egypt in January 2018. But justice remains a demand. There are hundreds of thousands of people in danger of facing the same destiny.

If we really want to stop human rights violations, we don’t make deals with the violator. If we really care someone to investigate an injust murder, we don’t send them weapons.

We stand with Patrick Zaky imprisoned under the dictatorship of Egypt. We stand with the Grup Yorum members being imprisoned under the dictatorship of Turkey.

Power lies in people, it lies in the movements and revolutions around the world – Belarus, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Black Lives Matter, Latin America.

When people are uniting for a common cause, when art is being made, there is hope.

-Ramy Essam



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