Iran: Shadi Sadr dedicates Courage Award to imprisoned Women’s Rights Activist Shiva Nazar Ahari

WLUML Networkers

Shadi Sadr, a renowned Iranian human rights lawyer, women’s rights activist and member of Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) – International Solidarity Network Council, has been awarded the International Women of Courage Award 2010. Ms. Sadr was also the recipient of the Lech Walesa and the Dutch "Human Rights Tulip" awards in 2009.

In light of the critical situation for human rights defenders in Iran since the disputed presidential elections in June 2009, Shadi Sadr is taking the extraordinary step of dedicating her Women of Courage Award to Shiva Nazar Ahari, and has decided not to travel to Washington D.C on Wednesday 10 March to receive the award from U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Shiva Nazar Ahari is a dedicated women’s rights activist, and founder of the highly influential and respected student Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHRR) in Iran, who is currently being held at Evin prison in Tehran. Shadi Sadr’s decision not to attend the awards ceremony is an urgent act of solidarity with all the women and men – many of whom are her colleagues – who have been targeted in mass arrests by the government because of their defense of human rights. From among these activists, Shadi Sadr has named Shiva Nazar Ahari, who has been held in Evin prison for seven months in total and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment by the Iranian authorities.

By dedicating this award to Shiva Nazar Ahari, Ms. Sadr intends to draw the world’s attention to the plight of all imprisoned Iranian human right activists in the hope that they are not forgotten. In a recorded message that was to be broadcast at the awards ceremony in Washington D.C., Shadi Sadr states that, “As Shiva is not with us and cannot attend this award ceremony, I will also refrain from attending in the hope that my absence will turn the attention of the international community to her dire situation, and help to free her along with other human rights activists and journalists in Iranian prisons.” We have just learnt that, regrettably, the U.S. Department of State has decided not to broadcast Shadi Sadr’s message during the ceremony. In effect it will succeed in silencing the very voice of protest and solidarity which has earned Ms. Sadr the Women of Courage award.
The annual International Women of Courage Award is awarded by the U.S. Secretary of State to women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and advancements. This award not only recognises their efforts, but also provides the awardees with a public platform to further voice their demands and publicize their efforts to advance human rights. Shadi Sadr, who campaigned for Shiva’s release before her own imprisonment and subsequent exile, courageously chose to use this opportunity to advocate for more forceful international and transnational action to secure the release of Iranian activists and to stop the continuous human right abuses and moves towards creating a gender apartheid society. 

Please find here ( Shadi Sadr’s recorded message that was to be played at the International Women of Courage Award Ceremony in Washington D.C on 10 March 2010. You can also read the complete text of Shadi Sadr’s speech by following the same link to the WLUML website.