Jailed defender of human rights awarded the Per Anger prize 2011
This year, the Swedish Government and the Living History Forum have awarded their prize in memory of Per Anger to Iranian human rights campaigner Narges Mohammadi. This is in recognition of her fight for human rights and women’s freedom, with personal courage and despite repeated serious infringements of her freedom.
On 28 September 2011, Narges Mohammadi was arrested on a charge of propaganda against the state. She was sentenced to 11 years in prison and is now under house arrest outside Tehran.
“Narges Mohammadi is paying a high price for her human rights campaigning. Despite previous imprisonment, repeated harassment, a travel ban and now house arrest, she continues to work for democracy and human rights in Iran. She is an inspiration for human rights activists around the world and a worthy recipient of the Per Anger prize,” states jury chairman Eskil Franck.
Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, made the following statement on 8 October 2011 regarding Narges Mohammadi’s sentence:
The High Representative wishes to express her concern over the 11 year prison sentence given to Iranian Human Rights Lawyer and activist, Ms Narges Mohammadi.
The High Representative has called on Iran numerous times to respect the work of human rights lawyers and activists. The sentence against Narges Mohammadi is yet another example of unjust persecution of those who show the courage and determination to stand up for human rights in Iran.
Narges Mohammadi has come to prominence for her fearless criticism of Iran for holding political prisoners without trial and for her campaigning on women’s rights issues. She is Deputy Chairperson of the CHRD, Iran’s Centre for Human Rights Defenders, an organisation that provides political prisoners with defence lawyers. She is also a co-founder of the Iranian National Peace Council, which comprises authors, artists, lawyers and activists who campaign, by peaceful means, for human rights in Iran.
It is highly likely that the regime in Tehran will not permit Narges Mohammadi to leave Iran to receive her prize in Stockholm on 14 November. She has had her passport seized and is subject to a travel ban, and since her latest period in prison, she is also too weak to travel. This news comes from Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi, who has worked with Narges Mohammadi in Iran and is a close friend. Shirin Ebadi will be accepting the prize on Narges Mohammadi’s behalf at the ceremony in Stockholm.
“But she is incredibly pleased and grateful for the prize,” says Shirin Ebadi, who believes that the prize and the publicity it gains around the world will improve the situation for many human rights activists not only in Iran, but across the Middle East.
- Narges Mohammadi was born in Iran in 1972. She studied physics and worked as an engineer in Tehran before the regime fired her in 2010 for her open criticism of the government. She is married to journalist Taghi Rahmani, who is also in prison for defending human rights in Iran. The couple have two young children.
- Lawyer Shirin Ebadi received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her human rights work on behalf of women and children in Iran. She was forced to leave Iran in 2009 and now lives in exile.
- The annual prize in memory of Per Anger is awarded to a person who, with courage and without any personal gain, works to promote human rights and democracy in the humanistic spirit of Per Anger. Per Anger was a diplomat who worked with Raoul Wallenberg in Budapest during World War II.