Iranian World Coalition member receives Martin Ennals award


on 23 May 2009

Ten leading international human rights organisations have decided to give Iran’s Emad Baghi the Martin Ennals Award. The award was designed to put threatened activists in the spotlight, thus improving their protection.
“This is an important prize, with regards to the organisations awarding it, and of course in my viewpoint the spiritual value of the prize is very high”, Baghi told
Baghi, a leading Iranian human rights defender based in Tehran. He founded the Society for the Defence of Prisoners’ Rights and the Association for the Right to Live, which is a member of the World Coalition.
His campaigning includes a scholarly examination of Islamic law (shari`a) on the subject, in which he demonstrates the absence of any doctrinal requirement for maintaining capital punishment.
“The religious thought of the respective authorities must be changed and reformed.”, Baghi explained. “To achieve this, we must produce a new and acknowledged interpretation of religion. This takes cultural work, activities, writing, discussing, etc. That is the way I have chosen”, he added.
Baghi’s inventory of death row prisoners in Iran, including juvenile offenders, has also been an important resource for UN human rights bodies as well as human rights groups outside the country.
He recently took part in the drafting of a human rights charter and a statement against child executions supported by one of the candidates running in the upcoming Iranian presidential election.

Four years in jail

Baghi has spent four years in prison over the past decade for his campaigning against the death penalty and other rights activities. Currently out of jail, he still faces charges relating to his work for the defence of prisoners rights.
Baghi suffers from serious heart and kidney ailments. In August 2008, physicians of the prison in which he was detained declared his condition critical.
The Chairman of the Jury of the MEA, Hans Thoolen, described the laureate as “an exceptionally brave man defending human rights despite imprisonment and poor health”.
The Martin Ennals Award, named after a British human rights activist, is awarded every year and comes with 20,000 Swiss francs in prize money.
The members of the award jury are Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Federation of Human Rights, the World Organisation Against Torture, Front Line, the International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights First, the International Service for Human Rights, Diakonie Germany and Huridocs.
Baghi received the Civil courage award from the Trustees of the Northcote Parkinson Fund in 2004, the Commission Nationale Consultative des Droit de l’Homme award in 2005 and the 2008 International Journalist of the Year prise from the British Press Awards.

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