Reporters Without Borders is delighted to learn that Nasrin Sotoudeh, an imprisoned Iranian human rights lawyer, and Jafar Panahi, an Iranian filmmaker under house arrest, have been awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
"The European Parliament’s choice is a historic gesture of support for freedom of expression in Iran," Reporters Without Borders said. "We see it as a message of hope for the laureates, one of whom is serving a six-year sentence in Tehran's Evin prison and the other is under house arrest in Tehran after being sentenced to six years in prison and a 20-year ban on making films or writing screenplays."
A lawyer who defended jailed journalists and netizens, Sotoudeh began a hunger strike on 18 October in protest against her prison conditions, the harassment of her family and the fact that her children are not allowed to visit her. Now in very poor physical condition, she was transferred today to the prison infirmary.
Detained since 5 September 2010, this determined human rights defender's only crime was to condemn arbitrary and illegal arrests and to demand that the authorities respect the rights of the victims of injustice, including journalists and netizens, whom the regime was trying to silence.
Reporters Without Borders reiterates the appeal it issued on 17 December 2010, when it said: " Her struggle is our struggle. The international community and its citizens must react. The Iranian regime is trying to crush a voice that it fears. Its attempt to reduce Nasrin Sotoudeh to silence obliges us to take up the challenge of a race against death. Freedom must triumph. No repression, no imprisonment can hold back a young, emerging civil society, of which Nasrin Sotoudeh is a spokesperson. Let us join our voices with hers. Nasrin Sotoudeh must live and be free."