Iranian journalist received PEN international award

Iranian journalist, blogger and activist Asieh Amini has received the Oxfam Novib / Pen Award on January 19 from the hands of human rights ambassador Lionel Veer. The presentation took place at the ‘Theatre at the Spui’ in The Hague, during the Writers Unlimited Winter Nights Festival. This award is presented every year to writers and journalists who are persecuted or have had to flee because of their critical writing

Asieh Amini, a journalist and women’s rights activist who has committed a great part of her career to raising awareness about the situation of women sentenced to execution and stoning has been awarded the the prestigious Hellman/Hammett Award, issued by Human Rights Watch. Asieh has also worked extensively on eliminating stoning sentences from the Iranian penal code and on overturning the death penalty, especially for youth offenders and women. Amini, along with three other Iranian writers, Mohammad Sadiq Kaboudvand, Yusuf Azizi Banitorof, and Arash Sigarchi, are among 37 writers who have received awards for 2009.

”Escaping” Iranian regime
Asieh Amini left Iran in 2007, after five days of incarceration in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison due to her protests against the imprisonment of a fellow activist. At the moment she lives in exile in Norway, where she continues to speak out against social injustice and to write poetry and non-fiction. She is also active in the ‘Stop Stoning Forever Campaign’, which monitors incidences of stoning in Iran, reports them and collects evidence. Amini released her latest work, a joint Norwegian-Farsi collection of poetry called ‘Komme ikke til mine drømmer med gevær’ (‘Don’t Come into My Dreams with Guns’) in Autumn 2011.

Awarded writers

The following writers have been honored the Oxfam Novib / PEN Award, but were not present at the presentation:

Mikhail Beketov, Russian journalist and former editor of the independent newspaper Khimkinskaya Pravda. Mikhail Beketov is well known for his critical articles against local authorities in Khimki. His paper has raised issues like the the transfer of an airmen hero monument, and the battle to save a section of the Khimki forest. Beketov’s articles apparently raised the ire of authorities. In May of 2007, unknown perpetrators detonated his car, and in February, a criminal case was launched against him for alleged libel. The editor has also said that threats were made against his life.
Rachid Nino, Moroccan editor of the daily Almasae and owner of the Massae Media Group.
Alhaj Warrag and Abdul-Moneim Suleiman, respectively founder and chief editor from Sudan of the Arab newspaper Ajras el Hurriya.

Other issues disscussed during event 

The presentation was followed by a discussion: Naema Tahir engaged Asieh Amini and writers Leila Chudori (Indonesia) and Bejan Matur (Turkey) in a discussion on women’s rights and sexuality. Kader Abdolah will be speaking the closing words.The presentation of the Oxfam Novib / PEN Award is part of the Writers Unlimited Winter Nights Festival, which takes place in The Hague from Thursday January 19 to Sunday January 22. 

About the Oxfam Novib / PEN Award. The international writers association PEN (Poets, Editors, Essay writers and Novelists) is a partner organisation of Oxfam Novib and committed to helping persecuted writers. The PEN Emergency Fund helps persecuted writers and those who have had to flee with a one-off amount of € 2,500 to help them overcome problems. Five awards are presented annually, but only one of the laureates visits the Netherlands. The Oxfam Novib / PEN Award went earlier to Hrant Dink (Turkey), Duong Thu Huong (Vietnam) and Ann Politkovskaya (Russia). Last year Russian film-maker Andrei Nekrasov received the award. As international city of justice, peace and security The Hague is the logical place for presenting the award

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