Iran Human Rights, September 21: Majid Tavakoli, prominent Iranian student leader activist, was announced the winner of the 2013 Student Peace Prize this morning. The announcement was made today to coincide with the United Nations’ International Day of Peace.
The prize committee, which is a politically independent and non-governmental entity, acknowledged Tavakoli for his "non- violent fight for freedom of speech and democracy."
The Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, commenting on the win, said: “The Student Peace Price is this year awarded to a young and brave person.” The Peace Prize’s website wrote: "The winner of the Student Peace Prize has thus become a symbol and a representative for Iranian students and political activists alike."
Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, the spokesperson of IHR, who spoke at the announcement ceremony in Norway, said in an interview: "The Iranian authorities think that by keeping Majid Tavakoli in prison they can silence his voice. But, today we proved the Iranian authorities wrong. Maid’s voice is stronger than ever. His words have been spread around the world. Majid’s win demonstrates that the Iranian student movement is not forgotten and that the world supports the legitimate demands and rights of Iranian students."
SEE THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE PEACE PRIZE CEREMONEY HERE
Majid Tavakoli is currently held in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj. He was majoring in shipbuilding when he was violently arrested on December 7, 2009, Iranian National Student Day. He was reportedly arrested after delivering a speech at Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran. Sources have said Tavakoli’s speech criticized high-ranking regime officials, including Ali Khamenei, the leader of Iran.
The Student Peace Prize is awarded biennially, on behalf of all Norwegian students. Majid Tavakoli will be honored with a ceremony during ISFiT (International Student Festival in Trondheim) and will also receive a personalized monument in Jomfrugata in Trondheim, as a part of the “Walk of Peace”.
MORE INFORMATION ON MAJID TAVAKOLI
He was initially transferred to Evin prison and endured long periods in solitary confinement, subjected to physical and psychological torture. He was transferred to Rajai Shahr prison in August 2010. He has launched multiple hunger strikes in prison, leading to the deterioration of his health. There were reports in 2010 that he was suffering from abdominal bleeding.
He was first arrested in 2007 for protesting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presence at Amirkabir University. He was held in prison for 15 months and tortured. He was arrested again in March 2009, during a memorial ceremony for Mehdi Bazargan. He endured 115 days in solitary confinement in Evin Prison before his release on bail.
The Tehran Appeals Court sentenced Majid Tavakoli to a total of nine years in prison: 5 years for "Association and collusion with the intent to act against national security", 1 year for "Propaganda against the regime", 2 years for "Insulting the Supreme Leader", and 6 months for "Insulting the President". In November 2011, the Tehran Appeals Court issued an additional 6 months for a fresh charge of "Propaganda against the regime".