The Nobel Peace Prize 2010 has been awarded to Liu Xiaobo and that was an important point at the history of Nobel Peace Prize. His Profile is very similar to the profile of Mohammad Sedigh Kaboudvand who is currently serving an 11 year sentence in Iran’s notorious Evin prison while Liu Xiaobo is experiencing a similar situation of 11 years of imprisonment in China. The most important similarity, however, is their long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights and democracy.
The Kurds have always been subjected to suppression and their struggle for their basic rights and the right to their own identity has cost them a high price of torture, imprisonment, execution, assassination, exile and exodus. In a region like Kurdistan, this time we are talking about Kaboudvand who is an independent human rights defender who tries to use a different rhetoric. He is a journalist and his weapon is his writings, his magazine, his books and his reports and his organization which is a pioneer human rights organization in Iranian Kurdistan. He is called the father of human rights in Kurdistan since he was the person who tried hard to record the examples of human rights violation, to report and communicate with the international human rights organizations and to introduce the codes of human rights to his people and most importantly to teach the culture of civil society organizations into that society.
Kaboudvand, who was born in1963, is married and the father of a daughter and two sons. He has bachelor degree in commerce management, master degree in Finance (accounting) and his study in the field of International law (M.A. degree) left uncompleted due to his arrest.
In 1996, Kaboudvand and a number of activists founded an organization called Unity for Democracy in Iran. It was a civil society organization aimed at creating a democratic civic culture acting publicly and peacefully. The organization published an internal magazine called Voice of Freedom. The actual reports and general information about the Human rights situation in Kurdistan in Iran was the main topics covered by the magazine. After a while, their activities got limited and the organization stopped.
During 1997 to 1999 Kaboudvand was busy writing about social movements, women’s rights and democracy. His books from this period are “the Other Half” which is about women’s rights, “Democracy in Limbo” which discusses transition towards democracy and finally “Social Movements”. The Iranian government did not allow the books to be published despite the author’s efforts and even after they had been revised several times.
In 1998, Kaboudvand applied for the permission to release a national weekly magazine. After waiting for 5 years, the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance finally approved his request in September 2002. The weekly magazine called “Payam-e- mardom” or “People Message” and it was an analytical magazine covering human rights, women rights and Kurdish people’s rights in the format of political, social, cultural, historical and linguistic articles published in both Kurdish and Farsi. Kaboudvand was the chief editor of the magazine. In June 2003, due to intelligence forces’ complaint, Kaboudvand got arrested and the initial court sentenced him to a one and a half year suspended jail term. After his release, he sent a message to the official and governmental press demanding the observation and recognition of Kurdish people’s identity in Iran by the government. Publishing that message, the magazine was shut-down by an order issued by general court.
In an effort to defend the rights of Kurds in Iran, Kaboudvand along with a group of friends established the Kurdistan Human Rights Organization (HROK) in April 2005. He became the President and speaker of the organization. This non-governmental organization was preparing reports on the conditions and instances of human rights violations in Kurdistan. The organization was a politically and religiously independent body. It had offices in Tehran and Kurdistan province. Close to 200 local reporters throughout Kurdistan region were working with this organization. The organization had both human rights reporters as well as human rights watches. The objectives of the HROK include the protection of fundamental rights such as those set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international conventions; the teaching, dissemination and encouragement of respect for human rights in Kurdistan; and the development of friendly relations between the peoples of Iran based on the principle of equality before the law.
Kaboudvand actively documented and reported on human rights violations in Kurdistan, from 9 April 2005 when he established the HROK, until the time of his arrest. During this period from April 2005 to July 2007, more than 250 reports were prepared and interview conducted.
On July 1st, 2007, Kaboudvand was arrested at his office in Vanak Square in Tehran by four plain clothes security officers and he has been held in prison since then. Kaboudvand’s rights as a prisoner have been severely abused. He was kept in solitary confinement for 7 months in section 209 and 240 of Evin prison.
Branch 15 of the Revolutionary Court sentenced Mr. Kaboodvand to an 11-year jail term and on October 23rd, 2008; branch 54 of Tehran Court of Appeal approved 10 years and six months. Kaboudvand has been charged and convicted for “acting against national security through establishing the Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan (HROK)”, spreading propaganda against the regime by circulating news, opposing the Islamic penal code by openly criticizing penalties such as stoning and hanging and his support of political prisoners.
Evidence cited in court was focused on the establishment of the HROK in 2005, communicating human rights violations to United Nations agencies and writing to former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan. In addition, many other of the normal human rights monitoring and advocacy activities, which are not crimes in Iran, were cited as evidence supporting the charges against Kaboudvand, for example advocating for the equal rights of women and men and communicating with the Secretary General and High Commissioner for Human rights of the United Nations. The Human Rights Organization of Kurdistan was not operating illegally as it was claimed during the trial. None of the activities of the HROK cited as evidence against Kaboudvand were shown to be threats to the national security of Iran. But these activities are all parts of the professional obligations of human rights defenders.
Mr. KABUDVAND is a prisoner of conscience held only for having peacefully exercised his rights to freedom of expression and association and dedicating his related organization to the defense of human rights in Iranian Kurdistan.
Kaboudvand has suffered heart attack and brain stroke several times in the prison. He suffers from acute cardiac distress, blocked blood vessels, kidney and prostate disorder and severe headaches but continued pleas by his family and prison doctors for much needed access to healthcare have been ignored by prison authorities. He has been given suspicious anti-anxiety sedative medication in prison which has created additional health problems including depression, loss of concentration and constant dizziness. They appear to be denying him appropriate medical assessment as a way of further punishing him for his peaceful political activities. Lately (January 4th, 2011) his family received information indicating that Kaboudvand has prostate cancer and needs medical care which is not available in the jail.
It is worthy mentioning that all Kurdish civil society, women, human rights and political organizations, intellectuals and Kurdish activists all over the world support his candidacy and he is nominated through a joined movement. In brief, Kaboudvand is nominated and supported by his people since he has been the ambassador of exercising peaceful non-violent strategies to achieve basic human rights of Kurdish people and this makes him entitled to the prize of peace. Additionally, the Kurdish people can see the commitment of the international community to the message of real peace in Kurdistan through the prize of Nobel.
Kaboudvand is well known to the international community organizations including Amnesty international and European Union. Kaboodvand received a Hellman Award (for writers subjected to harassment) from Human Rights Watch in 2009. He also was awarded as the International Journalist of the year the Press Gazette British Press Award in 2009.
Right now, Kaboudvand is paying a high price for his advocacy to Human Rights and we as a group of Kurdish women activists having different political views living in Europe collaborating in a temporary committee declare our full support for Kabudvand’s nomination and we believe Kabudvand is completely competent and qualified person of the award. His efforts have always focused on building a better world for human beings and realization of human rights.
The committee of supporting nomination of Kaboudvand for the Nobel peace Prize 2011
Neda Shahbazi, Shahla Dabaghi, Nahid Mokri, Marzieh Javanmard, Jamileh Rahimi, Shahin Shahlaei, Golaleh Sharafkandi, Shikofeh Ghobadi, Negin Shikholislami, Shler Bapiri, Samira Pourandokht, Zeinab Ilkhanizadeh, Soraya Fallah
1. 0046-73-7752557, Golaleh Sharafkandi, [email protected]
2. 0046-73- 6774831, Neda Shahbazi, [email protected]
For more information: