The International Center for Human Rights (ICHR) announced today that Mr. Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, Iranian political leader and prisoner, is receiving a prestigious human rights award from ICHR for his human rights activities. Five other prisoners also won the awards in the realms of student, labour, culture, human rights and legal advocacy.  The International Center for Human Rights presented the human rights awards to prominent activists on behalf of the award winners at its first annual gala on Sunday December 11, 2011.

Heshmatollah Tabarzadi was the recipient of the first annual Human Rights Award of the International Center for Human Rights. The CEO of Tirgan International festival, Mehrdad Ariannejad, accepted Heshmatollah Tabarzadi’s award on his behalf at the first annual gala on Sunday December 11. Mr. Tabarzadi has endured more than 16 years of physical and psychological abuse in the Islamic Republic’s prisons and before its courts.

“Winners of the 2011 awards are among activists who have made significant efforts to resist dictatorship and injustice,” said Hassan Zarezadeh Ardeshir, ICHR’s director. “The selection process was not easy when there are many prominent Iranian activists currently behind bars. However, the ICHR eight member selection team narrowed down the list of nominees to five names who received glass awards and one name who won the crystal award along with cash prize.”

Nasrin Sotoudeh, imprisoned prominent human rights lawyer, won ICHR’s award in the  realm of human rights advocate. Miss Fereshteh Molavi, Ira         nian human rights activist and writer, received the award on Ms. Sotoudeh’s behalf.

Majid Tavakoli, imprisoned prominent student leader, won ICHR’s award in the realm of student activitism. Mr. Salman Sima, a former student activist received Majid’s award on his behalf.

Reza Shahabi, imprisoned labor activist, won ICHR’s award in the realm of labour rights. Mr. Mehdi Kuhestani, a labour activist, received the award on Mr. Shahabi’s behalf.

Kouhyar Goudarzi, imprisoned human rights defender, won ICHR’s award in the realm of human rights defender. Mr. Hassan Zerehi , a journalist and human rights defender, received Kuhyar’s award on his behalf.

Ramin Parchami , an actor, won the ICHR award in the field of art. Mr. Soheil Parsa a prominent artistic director and writer received this award on Ramin Parchami’s behalf.

The International Center for Human Rights in Iran’s first annual human rights day gala was held in Toronto on Sunday December 11, 2011 at the Royal Banquet Hall. At the event, leading human rights figures such as Mr. Mohammad Mostafaie, human rights lawyer, Mr. Ahmad Batebi, human rights defender, Mr. Morteza Abdolalian fron Canadian Journalist for Free Expression, Aubrey Harris, from Amnesty International in Canada, Mr. Kaveh Shahrouz, Lawyer and former state department’s human rights advisor, spoke on the deplorable human rights situation in Iran. Also messages from MPP Dr. Reza Moridi and Canadian Parliament member, Mr. Paul Dewar, were read at the event.


Background information:

Nasrin Sotoudeh is a prominent Iranian lawyer and human rights activist. She is currently 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

Majid Tavakoli is a prominent student leader activist who was majoring in shipbuilding at Tehran’s Amirkabir University of Technology. He is currently held in the horrific Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj. Majid Tavakoli was violently arrested on December 7, 2009, following a post-election speech he had delivered on National Student Day that criticized high-ranking regime officials, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. He was transferred to the notorious Evin prison, and endured long stays in solitary confinement under severe psychological and physical torture. The student leader resisted the illegal behaviour of the Iranian authorities by launching multiple prison hunger strikes which have led to his deteriorating health, including reports of abdominal bleeding in 2010.

The student leader was first arrested in 2007 for protesting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presence at the university. Consequently, he was held behind bars for 15 months and tortured. He was arrested for the second time in March 2009 during a memorial ceremony for Mehdi Bazargan. Majid endured 115 days in solitary confinement at Evin prison, but was eventually released after posting a pricey bail. Majid is a brave student leader who has served as an inspiration for people around the world, and has kept the hope of victory alive in the hearts of Iranians. He is honoured as ICHR’s award winner for his persistent efforts in speaking out in defense of the Iranian civil society.

Reza Shahabi is a labour activist and a board member of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company. In June 2010, four security agents arrested Reza Shahabi at his workplace, and transferred him to Evin prison. Since then, 18 months ago, Reza Shahabi has been held in a state of prison limbo, meaning he has not yet been issued a prison sentence. Reza Shahabi has launched multiple hunger strikes behind bars. His most recent hunger strike was launched 16 days ago in protest to his uncertain situation and the unbearable prison conditions. According to his brother, Reza Shahabi plans to continue his hunger strike until his status is clarified and his prison conditions are made clear. According to human rights reporters, Reza Shahabi’s health is rapidly deteriorating and his life is at risk. The imprisoned labour activist is suffering from osteoarthritis, low blood pressure, and heart and liver problems. During his incarceration, the degenerative arthritis has resulted in Reza Shahabi to lose control over the left side of his body. Reza Shahabi is an individual who has fought tirelessly for justice. He is honoured as ICHR’s award winner for his tireless efforts in supporting worker’s rights in Iran.

Kouhyar Goudarzi:  Kouhyar Goudarzi is an award-winning human rights and student activist, a blogger, a freelance journalist, a banned Sharif University aerospace engineering student, and a member of the Committee of Human Rights Reporters. In November 2009, Kouhyar was expelled from his studies for his human rights activities.

On December 20, 2009, Kouhyar and other activists were arrested in Azadi Square while heading to Qom for Ayatollah Montazeri’s funeral. After enduring more than five months of temporary detention and severe physical and psychological torture in Evin, the human rights activist was sentenced to one year in prison. And on December 14, 2010, he was released from prison. However, on July 31, 2011 Kouhyar Goudarzi was arrested again. The next day, his mother was arrested and transferred to Kerman prison. Kouhyar Goudarzi was subjected to an enforced disappearance, and the Iranian authorities have remained silent on his location and well being to this day. According to unofficial sources and open evidence, Kouhar is currently detained in Evin prison. Kouhyar Goudarzi is a brave and selfless human rights defender who is honoured as ICHR’s award winners for the many sacrifices he has chosen to make for a more hopeful future in Iran.

Ramin Parchami: Ramin Parchami is a prominent Iranian actor who was arrested during the February 14, 2011 pro-democracy protests in Iran. He was spotted in the crowd in a demonstration and was told numerous times by plainclothes agents to leave. However, when Ramin Parchami ignored the warnings, he was arrested. According to a detainee who witnessed the actor’s transfer to Evin prison, he had walked down the prison hallway chanting loudly, “Zendani Siasi Azad Bayad Gardad” “Political Prisoners Must Be Freed!” This action lifted the spirits of the other prisoners. Ramn Parchami was sentenced to one year in prison by the Tehran Revolutionary Court, and is currently held in Evin prison, where he has also endured the torture of solitary confinement. The imprisoned actor has played roles in numerous films and television series, and, until last year, was working as an editor for the weekly arts and culture magazine titled, Naghsh Afarinan. Ramin Parchami is a brave human rights defender.