In English

Greens congratulate Sotoudeh and Panahi for Sakharov Prize

12.12.2012

'Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi are an example to human rights activists around the world. They have put the freedom of others before their own, and have refused to shy away from even the harshest repressions against them. The Sakharov prize sends an encouraging signal to the entire civil society in Iran. The European Union is watching and is close by your side. I deeply regret that we are not able to welcome these inspiring laureates in person.

But I am convinced that change will also happen in Iran. After all, it was in Tehran that the Arab Spring actually started, when thousands of courageous citizens took to the streets after the controversial 2009 elections. I am optimistic, therefore, and looking forward to personally congratulating Ms Sotoudeh and Mr Panahi at a later moment in time', comments Barbara Lochbihler, chairwoman of the EP Human Rights committee

'I salute Sotoudeh and Panahi for their courage and their desire to have freedom of thought in Iran. This award is a symbol of Europe's commitment to freedom of thought which is underlined by the memory of the Soviet scientist and public intellectual, Andrey Sakharov. It is worth remembering that Sakharov himself saw a direct link between freedom of thought and dialogue between countries. I think with this symbolic prize, the European Parliment should build a strong, frank, and open dialogue with Iran and its people', adds Tarja Cronberg, chairwoman of the EP Iran delegation.

The next presidential and city council electios will be held in Iran in June 2013. Cronberg and Lochbihler add:

'It is now crucial to get international election observers in the country. This could be an important opportunity towards fair elections.'

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