May 3, 2023

Niloufar Hamedi, Elaheh Mohammadi, and Narges Mohammadi honored with the UN Press Freedom Award

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The UN Press Freedom Award was presented to three Iranian women for their unwavering dedication to truth and accountability: Niloufar Hamedi, Elaheh Mohammadi, and Narges Mohammadi.

The “Freedom of the Press Guillermo Cano” award was announced on Tuesday, May 2, during a UNESCO-hosted event, which is the United Nations’ cultural, scientific, and educational agency.

Tofigh Jalasi–head of UNESCO’s communications office–announced the winners, expressing the organization’s hope to present the prize in person to the courageous journalists when circumstances allow.

Jalasi added that UNESCO anticipates the award will not only recognize the professional achievements of the three female journalists, but also prompt global action to ensure press freedom, particularly for women journalists, as they confront powerful forces and reveal corruption and human rights abuses.

Zainab Salbi, who leads the International Professional Media Council that nominated the trio for the award, stated: “These three have made enormous sacrifices for their dedication to reporting and disseminating the truth. We are therefore committed to honoring them and ensuring their voices are heard globally, until they are safe and free.”

Niloufar Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi, reporters for Shargh and Hammihan newspapers, were arrested following the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the EIrshad patrol, and now face serious security charges. Hamedi had reported on Mahsa Amini’s death while in custody by traveling to the hospital where she had been receiving treatment amid a three day coma and Mohammadi covered Amini’s funeral at her hometown in Saqqez.

Masoud Setayshi, the judiciary spokesperson, announced during a press conference a week ago that their cases have “been referred to the 15th branch of the Revolutionary Court for the issuance of a legal verdict.”

Setayshi accused Niloufar Hamedi and Elaha Mohammadi of “collaborating with the hostile American government, conspiracy against national security, and propaganda against the system.”

Setayshi further stated: “Since April 19 of this year, the case review process has been completed, and we expect that within a month, a hearing will be scheduled, a trial will commence, and the fate of these two individuals will be decided in the Tehran court.”

Narges Mohammadi, a prominent Iranian human rights activist and prisoner, has disclosed information about prisoners’ rights violations from within the prison.

In a recent letter from Evin prison, Mohammadi provided new details about the sexual and physical abuse of women detained during recent protests.

The Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize is awarded yearly by UNESCO to an individual, organization, or institution that has made a significant contribution to defending or promoting press freedom globally, particularly when undertaken at risk.

Colombian journalist Guillermo Cano Izaza was assassinated on December 17, 1986, outside his newspaper office, El Spectador, in Bogotá. Drug traffickers orchestrated the murder in retaliation for his reports on the drug trade.

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