Iranian Imprisoned lawyer and Canadian Human Rights defender Received ICHR Prestigious HR Award

Photo credit: Siavosh Bahman for ICHR

 Toronto, Canada – November 26, 2013 – The International Center for Human Rights (ICHR) announced today that Mr. Abdolfattah Soltani, Iranian imprisoned lawyer and Mr. Alex Neve, Canadian lawyer and director of Amnesty International Canada were received ICHR 2013 prestigious human rights award during ICHR’s Award Ceremony on Sunday November 24 in Toronto. (Read in Farsi)

After a careful review of nominations, ICHR’s Award Committee selected Abdolfattah Soltani and Alex Neve for ICHR 2013 prestigious human rights award. The Award Committee said two award winners have made a significant contribution to advancing and protecting human rights in Iran and middle-eastern countries.

The award ceremony recognized the work of human rights defenders towards the advancement of human rights in Iran and its neighboring countries.

Ardeshir Zarezadeh, ICHR director and Professor Irwin Cotler presented the first award to Mr. Gholamhossein raiesi, Iranian human rights defender, who has accepted the award on behalf of Abdolfattah Soltani and conveyed Mr. Soltani’s acceptance message to the audience.

The second award presented to Ms. Shamila Setaram, the president of Amnesty International Canada, by Dr. Houshang Bouzari, ICHR board member. She has accepted the award on behalf of Alex Neve and conveyed Mr. Neve’s acceptance message to the audience.   

Ten political prisoners in Iran and Iranian secular democrat leader Heshmatollah Tabarzadi, who is on leave from prison, congratulated Mr. Soltani for his award and welcomed presenting the award to Mr. Soltani by sending two letters to ICHR.

Professor Irwin Cotler, Parliament member and former Minister of Justice who also is a veteran human rights advocate, Senator Linda Frum, Matyos Bazajian, board member of Syrian Canadian Council, Minister David Zimmer, MP Jim Karygiannis, were among the speakers at ICHR 2013 Gala. Addressing the audience all speakers reported rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in Iran, Syria, Iraq and Turkey.

During his opening speech, Ardeshir Zarezadeh, executive director of the International Center for Human Rights-ICHR, welcomed the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly’s successfully adopted resolutions on the human rights situation in Iran and Syria last week.

“I am extremely pleased with the adoption of these resolutions, which send a clear message to the Iranian and Syrian Regimes to stop the massive human rights violations and repressing human rights defenders.  Canadian government is the drafter of the resolution’s text on Iran and I urge the government to continue its successful work.”

“Canada chose the right language against dictators. As we have seen with these totalitarian governments, without a strong and serious language, we will not see any improvement in the human rights situation,” Said Ardeshir Zarezadeh.


Ardeshir Zarezadeh, ICHR Director at ICHR 2013 Award Ceremony


Background information:


ICHR held its 2013 annual gala to recognize two outstanding individuals who through their contributions have greatly aided in the advancement of human rights values, both through their professional fields and career paths that they have chosen as well as within their engagements at a local grassroots level with promoting human rights.


Abdolfattah Soltani

Abdolfattah Soltani is the winner of ICHR 2013 prestigious human rights award. He is being recognized for his outstanding contributions to human rights in Iran.

As a prominent lawyer, Mr Soltani alongside Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi is co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) which is an organization based in Tehran that is active in defending the rights of women, political prisoners and minorities. Mr. Soltani has represented political prisoners in court. Along with Ebadi, he served as a lawyer for the family of Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi, who was allegedly tortured and murdered in Evin Prison in July 2003.

Abdolfattah Soltani was arrested three times in 2005, 2009 and 2011. In 2008, the DHRC was forcibly closed by state authorities. On March 4th, 2012, Abdolfattah Soltani was sentenced to 18 years in prison for founding the DHRC and was accused for gathering and colluding with intent to harm national security and spread anti-govn’t propaganda. In addition to the prison term, he was handed a 20-year ban from practicing law.

In June 2012 on the appeal process the sentence was reduced to 13 years imprisonment. He went on hunger strike on November 2 along with his cellmates to protest a lack of medical care for dissidents at Tehran’s Evin Prison.

Alex Neve

Alex Neve (Robert Alexander Neve) is the winner of ICHR 2013 prestigious human rights award. He is being recognized for his outstanding contributions to human rights in middle-eastern countries through Amnesty Campaigns.

Alex Neve became Secretary General of Amnesty Intl. in January 2000 and he is the primary spokesperson for the Toronto branch. Among his many other duties as a lawyer and professor at York’s Center for refugee studies and Osgoode law school, he has participated in Amnesty International missions to South Sudan, Côte d’Ivoïre, Tanzania, Ghana, Mexico, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Guinea, Honduras, South Africa, Zimbabwe & Guantánamo Bay.


Mr. Neve has represented Amnesty International at international meetings such as the Summit of the Americas, G8 Summit and has appeared before numerous Canadian parliamentary committees as well as various UN and Inter-American human rights bodies.

Alex is the Chair of the Canadian Centre for International Justice and a member of the Board of Directors of Partnership Africa Canada and the Centre for Law and Democracy.

In 2009 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from the University of New Brunswick and in 2007 was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

ICHR’ previous award winners are Mr. Abbas Amir Entezam in 2012 and Mr. Heshmatollah Tabarzadi in 2011. Mr. Amir Entezam’s over 30 years political struggle for democracy in Iran was acknowledged for his outstanding contributions to human rights issues in Iran. Mr. Tabarzadi, imprisoned secular democrat opposition leader, has significant contribution in advancing human rights in Iran.


The International Center for Human Rights (ICHR)

Toronto, Canada – November 26, 2013


Announcing Abdolfattah Soltani as ICHR 2013 HR Award Winner




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