Friday, March 7, 2008

Iran Expels Swedish Diplomat over Ardalan

Parvin Ardalan

Iran expelled a Swedish diplomat in retaliation to granting of 2007 Olaf Palme Award to Parvin Ardalan, a leader of Iran’s growing women’s movement.

Ardalan leads the One Million Signature Campaign, demanding equal rights for men and women. The campaign has made the women’s movement for civil rights and liberties a central part of the struggle for democracy in Iran. Ardalan was also the founding editor of Iran’s first online newsletter on women’s rights, Zanestan. She was sentenced to three years in prison in April 2007, a sentence which is under appeal.

Ardalan was awarded the prize on 13 February by Olaf Palme Memorial Fund. She was to receive the award in a ceremony held in Stockholm on Thursday. Ardalan was prevented on Wednesday by the authorities to leave Tehran. She was pulled out of a plane ready to depart Tehran’s airport for Stockholm.

Past winner of Olaf Palme prize include Myanmar’s pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, former Czech president Vaclev Havel, Sudanese human rights lawyer Mossaad Aohamed Ali, former UN secretary general Kufi annan and the human rights group Amnesty International.

Islamic Republic’s displeasure at Sweden’s recognition of Ardalan’s work and the country’s outspokenness on human rights issues in Iran led to the expulsion to the expulsion of the Swedish diplomat.

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