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Iran's longest-held political prisoner receives prestigious Human Rights award


Source: International Center for Human Rights (ICHR)

Toronto, Canada (November 11, 2012) - The International Center for Human Rights (ICHR) announced today that Mr. Abbas Amir Entezam, the longest-serving political prisoner in Iran, is the recipient of 2012 prestigious human rights award from ICHR for his human rights activities.

Ardeshir Zarezadeh, ICHR president and Nazanin Afshin Jam, member of advisory board presented this award to Mr. Nikahang Kousar, Iranian prominent journalist, who has accepted the award on behalf of Mr. Abbas Amir-Entezam and conveyed Mr. Amir Entezam’ acceptance message to the audience.

Professor Irwin Cotler, Member of Parliament in Canada and a former Minister of Justice who also is a veteran human rights advocate, Ms. Nazanin Afshin Jam, an international human rights and democracy activist, and Mark Arnold renowned human rights lawyer, who were guests speakers at the event.

Addressing the audience all speakers reported rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Iran and its neighbouring countries.

Time and again during the event Nasrin Sotoudeh, imprisoned prominent human rights lawyer, who is on hunger strike since two weeks ago, was also remembered and praised as one of the persistent and active human rights advocate at the event.

Mr. Abbas Amir Entezam
(file photo)
Related Article: Perseverance and honor: Interview with Abbas Amir-Entezam

Mr. Abbas Amir Entezam’s over 30 years political struggle for democracy in Iran was also acknowledged for his outstanding contributions to human rights issues in that country.

Amir-Entezam had joined the “National Resistance Movement” led by Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh's supporters in mid ‘60s. Mr. Amir Entezam was the spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister during the Interim Government of Mehdi Bazargan in early 1979.

He was arrested on charges of spying for the U.S. on December 18th 1979 right after the U.S. embassy take over in Tehran and subsequently sentenced to life in prison after a sham trial in 1981. Currently he is under house arrest in Tehran.

Last year, Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, imprisoned secular democrat opposition leader, was the recipient of ICHR Annual Human Rights Award of 2011. Mr. Tabarzadi has endured more than 16 years of physical and psychological abuse in the Islamic Republic’s prisons and before its mock courts.

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Background information:

Abbas Amir Entezam is the winner of ICHR 2012 human rights award. He is being recognized for his outstanding contributions to human rights issues in Iran.

Abbas Amir-Entezaam, the spokesman and Deputy Prime Minister during the Interim Cabinet of Mehdi Bazargan in 1979, is this year’s award recipient. His political struggles began when he was a high school student. After the coup in August 1953, Mr. Amir-Entezam had joined the National Resistance Movement led by Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh's supporters.

On December 18, 1979 he was arrested on charges of spying for the U.S, and in 1981 he was sentenced to life in prison.

After Mr. Amir-Entezam had gained national recognition and become a symbol of resistance, the Iranian regime offered him amnesty if he accepted the guilty verdict. Mr. Amir-Entezam refused the offer, stating that it was the fundamentalist judicial system that was guilty and it was him who had to forgive his captors. Instead, Mr. Entezam made multiple requests to the Iranian authorities for a public trial to no avail. He wanted the chance to prove his innocence.

On January 1998, Mr. Amir-Entezam was awarded the prestigious "Bruno Kreisky" prize for his courage and outstanding achievement in the field of human rights. Other previous winners of the award include Benazir Bhutto, Nelson Mandela, Amnesty International, and Palestinian non-violent activist Faisal Husseini.

Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, a secular democrat opposition leader, was the recipient of the first annual Human Rights Award of ICHR in 2011. Mr. Tabarzadi has endured more than 16 years of physical and psychological abuse in the Islamic Republic’s prisons and before its courts.

Mr. Tabarzadi has been arrested several times on charges related to his political activities, most recently in December 2009 after Iranian green movement. In October 2010, a court sentenced him to nine additional years in jail and 74 lashes, a sentence that was reduced to eight years on appeal.
Following the December 7, 2009 Student Day protests in Iran, Tabarzadi published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, writing, "One thing is certain: Dec. 7 proved that the movement for a free, democratic Iran is robust and only growing in strength. If the government continues to opt for violence, there very well may be another revolution in Iran. One side has to step down. And that side is the government--not the people."

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a prominent Iranian lawyer and human rights activist, currently on hunger strike. She is being held in the notorious Evin prison, and sentenced to six years in prison and banned from practicing law for ten years. Her crime is defending her clients who are mainly human rights activists arrested and abused following the June 2009 Presidential election. She has also defended numerous child execution cases.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a member of the Defenders of Human Rights, the One Million Signatures Campaign to Change Discriminatory Laws Against Women, and the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child.

Nasrin Sotoudeh was arrested in September 2010, and has endured the torture of long durations in solitary confinement. Since her arrest, Nasrin has launched multiple hunger strikes to protest the illegal behaviour of the Iranian authorities.

Nasrin Sotoudeh is the recipient of the 2011 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. The resilient lawyer is one of ICHR’s award winners for her strong defence against human rights violations in Iran

International Center for Human Rights (ICHR) is a non-governmental, non-profit international organization dedicated to promoting and defending human rights and democratic values. Its goal is to secure a peaceful and equitable life for members of the society. 

The ICHR team is made up of experienced human rights activists. ICHR campaigns against massive and systematic human rights violation in Iran. In the near future we will be expanding our work to include human rights issues from other Middle Eastern counties.

At ICHR our overall aim is to educate, raise awareness, and gain international support for people suffering from inhuman and unjust treatment by corrupt governments and dictatorships. 

We are looking to expand our team. Please feel free to contact us for more information. Our local office provides community services, legal assistance to refugees, and youth education.

In the past year, between August 2011 and September 2012, ICHR has organized and presented numerous projects and campaigns, including panel discussion on challenges facing democracy in Iran.

For the earthquake victims in Azrebaijan ICHR raised more than $9,000 in funds that were used to purchase relief aids in Iran. ICHR has played an active role in supporting hundreds of Iranian refugees, specifically in Turkey. During the earthquake in Van, Turkey, ICHR raised more than $10,000 dollars in funds for Iranian refugees left homeless after the natural disaster.

Additionally, ICHR has played an active role in raising awareness on the plight of Iranian political prisoners, including student activist Bahareh Hedayat, Canadian citizen Hamid Ghassemi-Shall, and journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi. When Saeed Malekpour was issued a death sentence ICHR worked closely with the campaign for his release to organize protests in Ottawa and Toronto.

ICHR worked hard to contact world government officials and other human rights groups urging support for the release of the Canadian resident on death row. Today, Saeed Malekpour is still in imminent danger of execution. We plan to continue being his voice and the many other people held in Iranian prisons.

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