Washington, D.C., December 10, 2009 – Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi, during a Voice of America (VOA) interview, dedicated her newest award to the “Mourning Mothers in Iran,” a group whose children were targeted during government crackdowns on student protests.
“The young generation is looking for freedom of speech and free elections in Iran,” she told VOA’s Persian News Network (PNN) this week. “They need jobs and security and they continue to ask for their freedoms. The [Iranian] government cannot stop them.”
Ebadi, a former judge who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, this week received the Award for Global Defense of Human Rights, presented by International Service, a British-based, government-funded development agency.
During her interview with VOA, Ebadi said she is giving her award to the “Mourning Mothers in Iran,” a group that initially met in late June for a rally in a Tehran park to commemorate those who have lost their lives or disappeared after participating in protests.
“They lost their children,” Ebadi said of the Mothers. “These mothers have been attacked and arrested by the Iranian government when they tried to tell officials, in a peaceful protest, that they are sad and angry about the death of their children.”
In Iran, violent protests erupted again this week, the most serious since millions of Iranians took to the streets following disputed presidential elections in June. Ebadi told VOA that the government’s crackdown was brutal.
Ebadi has repeatedly been in conflict with the Iranian government for her human rights campaigns that have sparked tensions with Iranian officials and the country’s conservative clerics. She won the Nobel Prize for her efforts to promote democracy and human rights, particularly for women and children. She was the first Iranian and Muslim woman to receive the prestigious award.
VOA’s PNN broadcasts seven hours a day of original television programming, five hours daily on radio, and has a 24/7 staff for its Web site. More than 29.5 percent of adults in Iran tune into VOA weekly.(www.voapnn.com)
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