Iranian dissidents win esteemed human rights prize

Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh
A file photo taken on November 1, 2008 shows Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh posing in Tehran. (AFP PHOTO/ARASH ASHOURINIA)

Earlier today:

A pair of Iranian dissidents — a jailed human rights lawyer (above) and a banned filmmaker (below) — were named winners Friday of the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize.The award went jointly to Nasrin Sotoudeh, an attorney who has represented political activists and others in Iran, and to Jafar Panahi, an internationally acclaimed  director now banned from  movie-making.“The award … 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,” European Parliament President Martin Schulz said in a statement.The prize, named after Andre Sakharov, the late Soviet physicist and political dissident, honors people and organizations that have contributed to human rights or democracy. The prize will be formally awarded in December in Strasbourg, France.

via Iranian dissidents win esteemed human rights prize –

The Sakharov prize has previously been awarded to the likes of Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela. The European Union’s top foreign policy diplomat, Catherine Ashton, has has expressed concern about Sotoudeh’s health. The Iranian regime of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad locked Sotoudeh up last year in solitary confinement on a six-year sentence and she is in the midst of a hunger strike.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued the following statement:

The United States congratulates Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi for receiving the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. We also wish to congratulate the other finalists, Ales Byalyatski, a recipient of the State Department’s 2011 Human Rights Defender award, Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Maria Alyokhina.

The work of Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi to uphold human rights and promote freedom of expression represents the desires of all Iranians to exercise their basic rights and freedoms. Unfortunately, they will not be able to enjoy today’s recognition. Despite her deteriorating health, Iranian authorities have imprisoned Sotoudeh and sentenced her to six more years in prison. Panahi has been sentenced to six years in prison and a 20-year ban on filmmaking and travel has been imposed on him. We call on the Iranian government to release Sotoudeh immediately, lift the restrictions and sentence on Panahi and release all political prisoners and others detained simply for their religious or political beliefs.

A file photo taken on August 30, 2010 shows Iranian film director Jafar Panahi posing during an interview with AFP in Tehran. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

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