ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (K24) – Imprisoned Kurdish journalist, Muhammad Seddigh Kaboudvand, serving a ten-and-a-half year sentence in Iran's notorious Evin Prison, received the International Centre for Human Rights (ICHR) award for his contributions towards human rights in Iran.
Parinaz Hassani, the imprisoned journalist’s wife, received the award on her husband’s behalf, in her home in Tehran on Monday.
In a message from Evin prison, Kaboudvand wrote: “Away from any nationalistic or ethnic bias and sentiment, I believe that Kurds in Iran are denied their basic human rights, the right to dignity, to equality, and to freedom."
"Kurds, like any other nation, are entitled to freely run their own social and political affairs in a democratic manner. I firmly believe Kurds deserve the right to freely choose sovereignty without external compulsions. This is a right that is valued and supported by all the civilized societies," the statement reads.
Kaboudvand added that authoritarian states deny minorities their rights but "any awakened conscience would find this situation unacceptable and would not stay silent. But, here [Iran], a protest to such unjust is severely penalized."
He also added that often the rights of the Kurds are treated separately from the rights and demands of the Iranians. "This categorizations has been used to justify the continuous crackdowns, restrictions, exclusion, and all other forms of social and political oppressions against Kurds."
Iranian security forces arrested Kaboudvand, the editor of the weekly magazine Payam-e-Mardom (people’s message) and co-founder of the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan in 2007. He was charged with “acting against national security” and sentenced to ten-and-a-half-years in prison.
PEN International, a worldwide association for literature and freedom of speech, adopted Kaboudvand as one of their select writers in prisons. The British Press Award also named him “international journalist of the year” in 2009. Amnesty International has designated Kaboudvand as a “prisoner of conscience, held solely for his human rights work and the peaceful expression of his views.”
He is reportedly being held "without adequate medical care despite suffering from serious health problems." Kaboudvand’s health has been deteriorating and he has gone on several hunger strikes due to being denied furlough in order to visit his ailing son. Reports also showed that in April 2008, he suffered a stroke.
Amnesty International, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and its affiliate, the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI), have repeatedly called on Iranian authorities to release Kaboudvand.
Nasrin Sotoudeh, an Iranian lawyer who represented Kaboudvand, told the foreign media that the Kurdish activist had received one of the worst treatments in Evin.
Ardeshir Zarezadeh, co-founder and Executive Director of the ICHR said that Kaboudvand was chosen this year’s winner for his “significant contribution to advancing and protecting human rights for Kurdish people in Iran and neighbouring countries.”
“We dedicate this award to Mr. Kaboudvand and all the Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria,” Zarezadeh announced.