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Mehrangiz Kar Awarded Human Rights Prize in Paris

10/28/02 PARIS, 24 October - Mrs Mehrangiz Kar, an outspoken activist lawyer and human rights activist was presented Wednesday the prestigious Ludovic Trarieux Prize for International Human Rights and was promised that France and European lawyers would do their best supporting their Iranian colleagues. The award, offered every year by the Bordeaux Bar Association to a lawyer who had done more in defence of human rights and justice, was awarded to the respected and combative Iranian lawyer and scholar last May 23.

Presenting the award, Mr Guy Canivet, the President of the French Court of Cassation said the Prize represented the recognition of France's highest jurisdiction instance for her unabated struggle for human rights, justice and freedom.

Mr. Guy CANIVET, presenting to Mehrangiz Kar the golden Medal and the diploma of the Prize, said: "There is no rule of law without freedom of expression. Judges must be independent and impartial and we don't recognize judgements as for you and your husband Siamak Pourzand, who is today in jail in Iran, pronounced by courts not complying with rights of the defence and human rights. Human conscience cancels such decisions of the judiciary given against universal law."

"This Prize is in recognistion of your indefatigable struggle for human rights in Iran, the land known for its high culture and humanism. For you who, during tempests, have kept your head up, defending people's rights to freedom and justice", one of the speakers observed amidst warm applause from a distinguished audience.

"The same as the land of Goethe and Schiller created Nazism and Hitler and gulags went up in the land of of Tolstoy and Pushkin, the land of great poets such as Ferdowsi, who started his book of the Kings which was dedicated to "the One who created soul and intelligence" is now under the yoke of darkness", one speaker observed during the emotion-bound ceremony.

Receiving the Prize, Mrs. Kar said the support lawyers everywhere, particularly in Europe, could extend to their Iranian colleagues who live under harsh working conditions would be of a great comfort and also helps the implementation of justice and freedom.

In her brief, thanking speech, Mrs. Kar described the difficult conditions under which Iranian lawyers work, and she said right now seven of them are in jail while the work permit for one hundred others had been cancelled by the Judiciary, a power, she said, is the stronghold against human rights, justice, democracy, the rights of the women and youngsters. She said since the election of Mr. Mohammad Khatami as President, the situation for human rights activists has become even more difficult, the regime having shut more than 80 titles and having placed behind bars some twenty prominent journalists.

Mrs. Kar was last arrested on 29 April 2000 after having attended with 19 other prominent Iranian writers, journalists, scholars, cleric and intellectuals a conference held in Berlin, organised by the Heinrich Böll Institute on April 7-9 entitled "Iran after the elections," aimed at debating political and social reforms in Iran. She was detained in Evin Prison until her release on bail on 21 June 2000 and she later flew to the United States where she is undergoing medical treatment for breast cancer.

But after she arrived in the United States, her husband, Siamak Poorzand, a leading journalist and intellectual, was abducted by the regime's agents, as he was leaving his sister's house in central Tehran, and and he was kept incognito in a secret prison for several months.

Mr. Poorzand was sentenced three months ago by a court to eight years imprisonment on fabricated charges of working for the enemy, collaboration with counter-revolutionaries, and activities against the Islamic Republic etc.

A human rights activist, Mrs. Kar is a lawyer, writer, essayist, and former editor of a now-banned literary review. Her work as an activist for women's rights has often put her in conflict with authorities of the ruling Islamic Republic. She has published widely on women and children's issues in Iran. Some of her recent works are: "Angel of Justice" and "Patches of Hell," a collection of essays which look at the status and position of women in pre- and post-revolutionary Iran; Women in the Iranian Labour Market (1994); and Legal Structure of the Family System in Iran.

The Ludovic Tarieux International Prize for Human Rights was set up in memory of Ludovic Tarieux (1840-1904), a lawyer at the Bar of Bordeaux, southwest of France. Minister of Justice (1898), his unflinching commitment as a supporter of the Alfred Dreyfus case and his role in the 1998 creation of the French League for the Defence of Human Rights and the Citizen, a movement totally independent of any political or religious belief, with the aim to ensure the enforcement of the rights of individual and the liberty to protect its principles.

Established in 1984, the HRIBB is a private, nonprofits, grant-making organisation that offered its first Ludovic Tarieux Prize to Nelson Mandela, then still in prison in South Africa. The Ludovic Tarieux International prize for Human Rights goes to a lawyer, regardless of nationality or Bar, who, by his/her activities or suffering, will have illustrated the defence of human rights, supremacy of law and struggle against racism and intolerance in any form.

Speech of Mrs Kar (in english or in farsi) is available on demand by e-mail at

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