Parvin Ardalan Campaign Activist Receives Hellman Hamet Award

Sunday 8 August 2010

Parvin Ardalan, women’s rights and Campaign activist was among 42 writers who were honored this year with the Hellmen Hamet Award. Another Iranian woman, Azin Izadfar, was among those honored this year as well.

About Iranian Award Recipients:

Parvin Ardalan (Iran), a writer and editor, co-founded the Women’s Cultural Center, a forum for debating, researching, and documenting women’s issues in Iran, and edited the center’s online magazine Zanestran. Ardalan is also a co-founder of the One Million Signatures Campaign, a grass roots movement aimed at repealing discriminatory laws against women. She was repeatedly arrested, interrogated, charged, and harassed for her human rights activities. In 2006, the center and the magazine were banned. In 2007, she won the Olof Palme Prize for her work on behalf of women’s rights in Iran. After the disputed presidential election in June 2009, the government mounted a major crackdown on journalists and reformist figures. In September 2009, Ardalan went to give a speech in Sweden and stayed. She is now living in Malmö.

Azin Izadifar (Iran) began writing and became a political activist quite young. At age 13, while participating in a demonstration against the mandatory hejab (the head covering worn by women) she was beaten by police. She continued to protest and at one point went into hiding. At age 16, she was arrested and sentenced to three years in Iran’s Evin prison. Her family burned her first poems and diaries. She became a dentist who worked with children with disabilities, but was barred from practicing dentistry because of her political activities. She then worked as a translator, though few of the books she translated were allowed to be published. Her last job in Iran was teaching a personal development course to young students. After government forces attacked her home, she fled to Vienna in 2006 and worked with Amnesty International. In 2007 she was granted asylum in the US and is living in California. Over the years she has written four books, 19 articles, and hundreds of poems, all unpublished. Her passion for writing has endured. She is now writing a memoir about her teenage years as political prisoner and a series of articles on the mythology and socio-psychology of Iran.

According to information on the site of Human Rights Watch, "the Hellman/Hammett grants are administered by Human Rights Watch and given annually to writers around the world who have been targets of political persecution. The grant program began in 1989, when the American playwright Lillian Hellman stipulated in her will that her estate should be used to assist writers in financial need as a result of expressing their views."

"The Hellman/Hammett grants aim to help writers who dare to express ideas that criticize official public policy or people in power," said Marcia Allina, Hellman/Hammett grant coordinator. "Many of the writers share a common purpose with Human Rights Watch: to protect the human rights of vulnerable people by shining a light on abuses and building public pressure to promote lasting, positive change."

To read the announcement by Human Rights Watch and the biographies of the other 39 writers receiving the Hellman Hamet Award this year visit the site of Human Rights Watch.


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