Iranian Activists Awarded Human Rights Prize
The European Union awarded its Sakharov Prize for Human Rights and Freedom of Thought to two Iranian activists on October 26. Human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and filmmaker Jafar Panahi, both currently imprisoned by the Iranian regime, were awarded the prize for “defending their own and others’ basic freedoms.” Sotoudeh is reported to be on a hunger strike in response to mistreatment at Evin prison, in addition to being prohibited from speaking with her family. Six human rights organizations, along with Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi, have called on the Iranian government to give all prisoners access to necessary medical care and family visits afforded to them under international human rights law. YouTube user “garylanecbn” posted a video by International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran which highlighted Sotoudeh’s work.
Amnesty International labeled Mohammed al-Ajami a “prisoner of conscience” and called on the Qatari government to release him unconditionally. Qatari authorities claimed that a poem written by al-Ajami was “inciting to overthrow the ruling system” and insulted the emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, a charge which carries a maximum penalty of death. Al-Ajami’s trial has been postponed for a fifth time, and is now scheduled for November 29. Additionally, the Qatari government is in the process of trying to pass a “draft media law” which would revise article 53 of the constitution, inserting “loosely worded provisions penalizing criticism of Qatar or neighboring governments.” Human Rights Watch has called on the Qatari government refrain from passing the revision unless it removes the language on “criticism.” The organization points out that such language would be at odds with “Qatar’s claims to be a center for media freedom in the region.”