For Immediate Release, October 4, 2004
Contact: Barbara Becker, EqualShot, 212-375-0661
Iranian and Zimbabwean Democracy Advocates To Receive Major Award
Emadeddin Baghi, Iran and Lovemore Madhuku, Ph.D., Zimbabwe
New York, NY - Two men who have endured persecution and imprisonment during lifelong battles for democracy in their countries will receive the 2004 Civil Courage Prize at an award ceremony on October 12.
Emadeddin Baghi, an Iranian journalist, historian and author who exposed involvement by the Iranian government in politically motivated assassinations of Iranian intellectuals and political activists in the late 1990's, and Dr. Lovemore Madhuku, chair of the National Constitutional Assembly in Zimbabwe, will be honored by the international human rights community at the awards ceremony in New York City. Although both men are expected to be present to receive the award, neither has received final clearance to date to leave their respective countries.
The Civil Courage Prize honors individuals who exhibit "civil courage" - steadfast resistance to injustice at great personal risk. It has been awarded annually since 2000 by the Trustees of the Northcote Parkinson Fund. Honorees receive $50,000.
Baghi, a former revolutionary and Islamic seminary student committed to the establishment of democratic reform in Iran, used his ability as a writer to call attention to government involvement in the murders of more than 80 secular writers, intellectuals and political activists in Iran in the late l990's. He is the author of 19 books, six of which were banned by the ruling Iranian clerics. In 2000, Baghi was arrested, put on trial and imprisoned in solitary confinement for apostasy and endangering the security of the Islamic state. Although freed in 2003, he remains under a new threat of prison sentence for his staunch defense of free expression.
Dr. Madhuku is a lawyer and chair of the National Constitutional Assembly. A constitutional law expert and lecturer on law at the University of Zimbabwe, Madhuku has been persecuted and jailed for leading peaceful demonstrations for a new constitution in his country. He was brutally beaten by anti-riot police for his leadership in a public demonstration in October 2003 and imprisoned until recently. He was arrested again in September 2004 for leading another peaceful demonstration in Harare. Human rights organizations have condemned his treatment by government officials.
"It takes an individual with almost super-human courage of conviction to put their life on the line year after year to fight an injustice," said John Train, founder of the Civil Courage Prize and chairman of the Northcote Parkinson Fund. "There are many courageous people in this world, but very few who will lead the charge for rights and freedom at their own expense and often that of their families."
In addition to Baghi and Madhuku, the Civil Courage Prize will be bestowed posthumously to Abdul al-Latif al-Mayah, a political scientist and human rights advocate in Iraq who was murdered by pro-Hussein insurgents.
The 2004 Civil Courage Prize will be presented on October 12th from 6:30 to 8:30 at Harold Pratt House, 58 E. 68th St. in Manhattan. To attend the event as a member of the media, please contact Barbara Becker at 212-375-0661.