Civil Courage Prize
for steadfast resistance to evil at great personal risk

2004 Civil Courage Prize Honorees

Emadeddin Baghi
Iranian journalist and writer imprisoned for exposing the assassinations of Iranian intellectuals.

In 2005 Mr. Baghi founded the Organization for the Defense of Prisoners' Rights, which released its first report on the State of Prisons in Iran in June of 2006. Mr. Baghi has suffered continual harrassment from Iranian authories. He was arrested in October 2007 and is being held in solitary confinement. This latest arrest and detention is the continuation of the State's 2004 trial against him when he was accused of acts against national security and sabotage against the system.

Lovemore Madhuku, Ph.D
Lawyer persecuted for demanding constitutional reform in Zimbabwe.

Dr. Madhuku was severely injured in the spring of 2007 during a public confrontation with police and government-sponsored gangs. He has repeatedly spoken out against the strategy of brokering deals with Mugabe's regime, calling instead for regime change through popular mass action. He and a group of prominent civil society leaders have demanded over $1.2 trillion from the police as compensation for the alleged unlawful detention and assault on March 11.

Abdul al-Latif al-Mayah (posthumous)
Iraqi political scientist and human rights advocate, assassinated.

An Award Ceremony was held in New York City on 12 October 2004.

Emadeddin Baghi is an Iranian journalist, contemporary historian and prolific author who has continually risked his life during the past twenty years campaigning for human rights and a secular state in Iran.

Baghi has used his talent as a writer to expose the involvement of the Iranian government in the assassination of Iranian intellectuals and anti-government activists. He has written 20 books, six of which are banned in Iran, as well as many bylined articles in the independent reformist press exposing violations of free expression. He also founded, Defending the Prisoners' Rights Committee, an organization to help defend intellectuals imprisoned for espousing pro-democracy ideas and opinions.

A former revolutionary and seminary student, Baghi came to reject the rule of the theocracy in the l980's and to ally himself with a movement by younger intellectuals and political scientists seeking reform. While recognizing the importance of religion, he became a strong advocate for a secular state in Iran. While he was Chief Editor of Fath newspaper he wrote articles on a democratic reading of religion, and in his first book, A Study About the Clerics, he argued strongly in favor of an Islam open to individual understanding rather than clerical interpretation. Not surprising, the book was immediately banned upon publication. Another one of his books, Realities and Judgments, details the violent treatment of the opposition by ruling clerics. Copies of this book, published illegally and anonymously in 1991, were hunted down and destroyed by the government.

At great personal risk, Baghi became the voice for many political dissadents in Iran. He argued on behalf of Ayatollah Montazeri, a former colleague of Ayatollah Kohmeini who began to question the execution of many of Kohmeini's political opponents in the early l980's, and continued his crusade against the government by writing in the reformist press throughout the 1980's and l990's. In 1999, he and Akbar Ganji, another reformist journalist, wrote about the murders of 80 secular writers, intellectuals and political activists which took place throughout the l990's, accusing the government of overt involvement. These articles galvanized the public and, within one year of their publication, forced the closing by the government of nearly every reform newspaper in the country.

Baghi was arrested, put on trial and imprisoned in solitary confinement for apostasy and endangering the security of the Islamic state in 2000. Although he was released in the Spring of 2003, he has been repeatedly summoned to appear in court and recently received a one year suspended sentence by the sixth revolutionary court of Tehran without making its reasons known. Reporters Without Borders, an international organization that defends imprisoned journalists throughout the world, called this most recent action an attempt to silence Baghi.

"Baghi is a veteran of three years in prison and seven shuttered papers; nevertheless he is currently seeking to open an eighth publication, Jumhuriyat [Farsi for Republic] ... Jumhuriyat will illustrate both the core resilience and the discreet new trajectory of the progressive impulse in Iran. This new newspaper is arriving just when the reform movement in Iran is giving every appearance of being on the run, if not actually finished." (July 3, 2004 article by Karl Vick of the Washington Post Foreign Service). Jumhuriyat is currently banned by the judiciary, who have also demanded Baghi's dismissal as Chief Editor.

Mr. Baghi was born in 1962 in the holy city of Karbala in Iraq. Mr. Baghi lives in Tehran and is married to Fatemeh Kamali. They have three daughters, Monireh, Mina and Maryam.

Mr. Baghi was detained by Iranian authorities at the Tehran airport as he attempted to travel to New York to receive the 2004 Civil Courage Prize. His passport was confiscated and he was not permitted to leave the country. This action appears to be a demonstration of an emerging pattern of harassment of independent human rights defenders in Iran. Mr. Baghi was represented at the award ceremony by Heibatollah Baghi, Mr. Baghi's Uncle and a Professor at George Mason University.

"I am a researcher, writer and human rights activist working in accordance with the law," said Baghi. "They were checking everything thoroughly as though I was a spy trying to take out and disclose confidential nuclear information. I had not been summoned, trailed or penalized, thus this action was totally against the law."

For further information about Mr. Baghi please visit www.emadbaghi.com/en.

Lovemore Madhuku, a lawyer and chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), has been persecuted and jailed on and off during the past decade for demanding constitutional reform in his country of Zimbabwe.

Dr. Madhuku has led many peaceful demonstrations in support of a new constitution, with the ultimate goal of bringing about democracy in Zimbabwe. As recently as February 2004, he was brutally beaten by anti-riot police during a peaceful demonstration for a new constitution in Africa Unity Square in Harare. He was arrested and jailed in June of this year and again in September.

Dr. Madhuku is a founding member of the NCA, a non-governmental organization he helped form in 1997. NCA is a group of individual Zimbabwean citizens and civic organizations committed to constitutional reform, including labor movements, student and youth groups, women groups, churches, business groups and human rights organizations.

Dr. Madhuku has been at the forefront of the NCA's activities, personally leading protests, drawing a new draft constitution, and spearheading such initiatives as the successful 2000 NO VOTE campaign, which rejected the constitution drafted by the government and gave Robert Mugabe his first ever electoral defeat.

In January of 2004 the NCA sought a High Court order to compel the government to accept and give its response to NCA's draft 2000 constitution. The High Court postponed the matter. Dr. Madhuku called the rejection "grossly unreasonable, because the NCA does not seek to impose its program on the government. It merely seeks to present its proposals, which the government is at liberty to reject."

In a telephone interview from Harare (NYT June 3, 2004), Dr. Madhuku said "In the past one or two months we've seen continuing evidence of the grip of this regime on power. The regime here is closing, completely closing, all avenues of people expressing themselves."

Dr. Madhuku was also arrested and jailed in October 2003 along with 400 other NCA activists for holding a peaceful public demonstration in Harare, and again in November 2002 for protesting the death of a student who was allegedly strangled and thrown from a train by soldiers.

In 2000 NCA began the One Hundred Days Peace Initiative to promote peace within the nation in the face of growing political violence. The riot police broke up its first activity, The Peace March. Since then, the NCA has continued to host public meetings, workshops and seminars to educate the public, as well as conducting demonstrations and boycotts to put mass pressure on the government to yield to constitutional reform.

Dr. Madhuku was born on July 20, 1966. He is married to Annamercy and has two children, a daughter Tendai (4) and a son Nyasha (1). He received a Bachelor of Law (Honours) degree [BL (Hons)] in 1989 and a Bachelor of Laws degree [LL.B] in 1990, from the University of Zimbabwe and a Master of Law [LL.M] in 1994 and a doctorate in law [Ph.D] in 1999 from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Due to political developments in Zimbabwe Dr. Madhuku was unable to travel to New York City to receive the Prize. On 6 October 2004, the Mugabe regime proposed a law that seeks to ban all non-governmental organizations, with Dr. Madhuku's organization, the National Constitutional Assembly, a prime target. Dr. Madhuku courageously decided to remain in Zimbabwe to organize and lead public protests against the proposed legislation. Dr. Madhuku was represented at the 12 October ceremony by Geoffrey Nyarota, former editor-in-chief of the Daily News, Zimbabwe's largest independent newspaper, who is now at the Carr Center for Justice at the Kennedy School of Government.

For further information about Dr. Madhuku and the National Constitutional Assembly, please visit www.nca.org.zw.

Abdul al-Latif al-Mayah was a university professor, political scientist and human rights advocate working for liberty and basic rights in Iraq. As an anti-Saddam Hussein Iraqi and member of the Shiite underground, he formed a secret society called United Iraq is our Home.

He was brutally executed by eight masked gunmen in Baghdad in January 2004 as he was driving to work. His murder was considered part of a widening campaign to rid Iraq of its urban, educated and professional class.

 

— Return to top —

2004 Honoree
   press release
   Baghi remarks
   Madhuku remarks
   keynote remarks from Hodding Carter III
   Maryam Baghi's letter to her father [also in Persian, PDF]


Emadeddin Baghi (left) at the offices of Jumhuriyat. The publication of Jumhuriyat has been banned by Iranian authorities.


Iran


Lovemore Madhuku.


Zimbabwe

© Civil Courage Prize