Saturday, March 08, 2008

Sister of barred Iranian feminist accepts Palme prize

Iranian feminist Parvin Ardalan's sister accepted a major Swedish rights award, the Olof Palme Prize, on her behalf on Thursday after she was prevented by Tehran from attending the ceremony.
Mikael Näve, a secretary at the Olof Palme Memorial Fund, told AFP that Shirin Ardalan had accepted the prize in the presence of about 150 people.A figurehead of the Iranian women's movement, Parvin Ardalan, 36, had been due to accept her award in person but Iranian authorities ordered her off a flight preparing to take off from Tehran for Stockholm at the weekend.Ardalan was honoured for her women's rights campaign in Iran.She founded a women's cultural centre in the 1990s and in 2005 published the first online newsletter on women's rights in Iran -- "Zanestan".She was sentenced to three years in jail in April 2007 after being declared a threat to national security for criticizing the state of women's rights in Iran, according to the Swedish fund.She has appealed the verdict and has yet to serve time in prison.The award is named after Palme, a popular Swedish prime minister who was gunned down by a lone attacker in February 1986, shortly after leaving a Stockholm cinema.Created to promote peace and disarmament and combat racism and xenophobia, the prize consists of a diploma and $75,000 dollars.Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt criticized the Iranian authorities travel ban imposed on Ardalan."The work of Ms Ardalan and her colleagues is of particular importance to the situation of women in Iran. Unfortunately, this is but one of a number of examples showing that respect for human rights in Iran continues to deteriorate," Bildt said in a statement.His comments came after a deterioration in Swedish-Iranian ties.A Swedish diplomat was forced to leave Iran in February after Stockholm had asked an Iranian diplomat to leave earlier in the year, the Swedish foreign ministry said on Thursday

More on Parvin Ardalan who apparently suffers from MS from Jadi's blog:

The Olof Palme Prize for 2007 goes to Parvin Ardalan, who has succeeded in making the demand for equal rights for men and women a central part of the struggle for democracy in Iran. This prize was given to Kofi Annan in the last year and there are also people like Aung San Suu Kyi, Anna Politkovskaja and organizations like RSF and Independent media in former Yugoslavia. Parvin is a great person. She is my close friend and she is one of the bravest people whom I know. She used to be active for around 15 years despite of her health problems (she has MS). We are really glad that she've got this prize and to be honest, we believe her prize belongs to all of the active women and in general all of human rights activists in Iran. We adoer Parvin's courage as much as we adore other human rights activists just as we adore people like "Rahele Askarzade" and "Nasim Khosravi" whom were arrested yesterday while they were talking with people in a park about unequal rights of the women. You know, I'm not sure if we are able to do a change by all these efforts or not, but at least I'm sure that I will be proud of these activities in the future. Iranians might not be free of unequal rights, but at least will can say that "we did something" :)

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