2012 Sacharov award to Iranian HRDs

October 26, 2012

Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi – winners of ...

Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi (Photo credit: European Parliament)

Two Iranian activists, lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and film director Jafar Panahi, are this year’s joint winners of the European Parliament Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. They were chosen by President Schulz and political group leaders on Friday morning.

“The award of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to the Iranians Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi is a message of solidarity and recognition to a woman and a man who have not been bowed by fear and intimidation and who have decided to put the fate of their country before their own. I sincerely hope they will be able to come in person to Strasbourg to the European Parliament to collect their prize in December”, said President Schulz, announcing the winner after the meeting. He underlined that the unanimity this year was exceptional.

Nasrin Sotoudeh

Nasrin Sotoudeh, born in 1963, is an Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate. She has represented opposition activists imprisoned following Iran’s disputed June 2009 presidential elections, juveniles facing the death penalty, women and prisoners of conscience. She was arrested in September 2010 on charges of spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security and has been held in solitary confinement. She was one the 3 nominees of the Martin Ennals Award 2012. Sotoudeh has two children. She recently started a hunger strike in protest against the state’s harassment of her family.

Jafar Panahi

Jafar Panahi, born in 1960, is an Iranian film director, screenwriter and film editor. He first achieved international recognition with his film The White Balloon that won the Caméra d’Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. His films often focus on the hardships faced by children, the impoverished and women in Iran. Mr Panahi was arrested in March 2010 and later sentenced to six years in jail and a 20-year ban on directing any movies or leaving the country. His latest film “This Is Not a Film” was smuggled from Iran to the 2011 Cannes Film Festival on a USB stick hidden inside a cake.

(The two other finalists were Ales Bialiatski and Pussy Riot)

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