The RAHA Human Rights Award recognizes Iranian human rights defenders, who have made contributions to human rights in the I.R. Iran. Candidates are considered based on the significance of their contributions and their current situation. This year’s six winners include women right’s activists, labour union activists, student and education rights activists and journalists – all of whom have demonstrated commitment to defending and advancing human rights and democracy despite great personal sacrifices.
Jila Karamzadeh Makvandi is awarded for her assistance to political prisoner’s families and to the "Mothers of Laleh Park," a group of mothers protesting their children's detentions; as is the member of the teachers’ guild, Rasoul Bodaghi, for his actions and his advocacy for education and labour rights, student activist Majid Tavakoli, who is imprisoned for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and for his fight for democracy and human rights through speeches and publications. Nasim Soltanbeygi is listed for her prowess and commitment as a journalist, women's rights activist and former student rights activist, while Kurdish women's and children's rights activist Parvin Zabihi is nominated for her fight against laws that discriminate women, female circumcision, honour killings and burning and stoning of women. Reza Shahabi, a founding member and the treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, an independent trade union, is honoured for his contribution and sacrifices to the labour movement.
More information on the winners
The six recipients were selected by a special jury comprising the Nobel Prize laureate and human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi as chairwomen, the co-founder and principal investigator of the Freedom Rights Project and former executive director of the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights Aaron Rhodes and the Südwind board member and human rights lawyer Karolina Januszewski.
The physical token of the award is a metal sculpture designed and made by the well known Iranian sculptor Behruz Heshmat. Born in Tabriz in 1953 Behruz Heshmat worked as autodidact sculptor in Tabriz and Tehran (1970-1975). He held exhibitions in Tabriz and Tehran before moving to Austria to formally pursue sculpture at the Academy of Applied Arts of Vienna (1976-1982) and enroll in masterclasses with Wander Bertoni, an Austrian sculptor of public art. Since then he has received many awards and commissions for public art installations, mostly in Austria and Germany.