ESU nominates imprisoned Iranian activist for Student Peace Prize
”Bahare Hedayat’s extraordinary courage and her persistent defense of students’ right to freedom of speech and expression are the reasons we are nominating her for the Student Peace Prize 2011”, says Ligia Deca, Chairperson of the European Students’ Union.
Bahareh Hedayat (29 years old) is one of the student union leaders still under arrest after the protests against the policies of the Iranian government. The European Students’ Union has actively followed the situation of the Iranian student unions.
On December 31st 2009 Hedayat was arrested on charges related to her student activism, one of them for delivering a message to the European Students’ Union and other organisations for the 70th anniversary of the International Student Day, on 17th of November 2009.
Ligia Deca said: ”Being an active female student union leader, with the oppressive environment the Iranian society is facing at the moment, is in itself an extraordinary challenge. But expanding the student union’s work, making visible the hardship of Iranian students and establishing a link to European organisations without fear for the consequences, shows a great personal dedication to the rights of students, women’s rights and human rights as a cornerstone of every society on the planet.”
The Student Peace Prize is awarded biennially to a student or a student organisation that has made a significant contribution to creating peace and promoting human rights. The prize is awarded on behalf of all Norwegian students. The next peace prize ceremony takes place in February 2011 in the city of Trondheim.
More information about Hedayat’s work and current situation can be found in the biography below.
For more information, please contact:
Ligia Deca, ESU Chairperson, on phone +32473669892 or email@example.com
Olav Øye, ESU Communications Manager, on phone +32495101879 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Short biography of Bahareh Hedayat
Born: April 5th 1981.
Admitted in 2001 to Undergraduate Program of Economics, College of Economy, Tehran University. She immediately became an active member of the Student union in that college.
In 2002 she was elected as a committee member of this Student union and remained in that post for three consecutive periods with a high number of student votes.
During the same time she started her activities in Tehran’s branch of the national student organisation “Office for Strengthening Unity” (OSU) . She was also active in the general council of this organisation. OSU (Persian: Daftar-e Tahkim-e Vahdat) is the biggest student organization in Iran.
In 2003, she was one of the active female students protesting against the execution verdict of Dr. Aghajari, a university instructor.
Besides her student activities, she has also been active in the field of women’s rights. Establishing the Women’s Commission in 2005 could be considered as one of her noticeable achievements during this period. This commission was set up to promote the presence of female student activists at universities and also to propagate the demands of women’s movement as one the fundamental demands of the student movement.
During this time, her constant participations in the gatherings of women’s rights activists earned her a position as a secretary in the Women’s Commission of OSU. Finally, her involvement in women’s rights activities resulted in the official announcement of One Million Signatures for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws Campaign in September 2006. This campaign was organized by progressive women in Iran to collect one million signatures in support of changing the discriminatory laws against women in Iran. This wide-spread campaign has been considered as the largest and most effective initiative organized by women’s rights activists inside Iran ever since. As an early member of this campaign, Bahareh Hedayat played a significant role in both founding and promoting it in universities. Her role has been very effective in feminizing students’ demands and attracting attention to this overlooked segment of society.
In the same year, she was elected with the highest number of votes as the only female member of the OSU’s central committee. She was also appointed as a member of the human rights committee of the same organization.
Since then, she’s been reelected for the same function. She has been in charge of the public relations of OSU fulfilling the task of the spokesperson.
During this period, she participated in the organization of a protest on June 12th 2005 with regard to the unequal laws against women. A year later, on June 12th 2006, the same gathering was violently attacked by the police. She was put under arrest in that gathering. Subsequently, the court found her guilty for organizing “illegal” gatherings and sentenced her to two years solitary confinement. The appeal court confirmed the verdict, but postponed it for five years.
In 2007, along with 6 other members of the central committee of OSU, she organized a strike in front of Amir-Kabir University to protest against the arbitrary arrests and torture of the university students. The officers of the intelligence service reacted violently against this event. She was once again put under arrest and spent more than a month in solitary confinement, under severe pressure by the officers of the Ministry of Intelligence. After a while, she was temporarily released on heavy bail amount. The court in charge of this event is still in progress and has not announced any verdicts yet.
On July 13th 2008, she was illegally rearrested. After spending a month in solitary confinement ,being under severe pressure, she was temporarily released again.
Bahareh Hedayat was arrested once again in mid March 2009 for participating in a peaceful gathering in front of Evin Prison held by the families of political prisoners. This gathering was organized for the arrival of Nowruz but was violently attacked by the intelligence service.
During the recent presidential elections, Bahareh Hedayat was, along with other members of OSU, very active in the campaign against Mahmud Ahmadinejad’s policies. After the coup on June 12th, she started to reveal the government’s crimes with regard to the severe attacks on Tehran University and students’ dormitories. Since then she came on the blacklist of the intelligence service. The police tried unsuccessfully to arrest her twice by invading her house ( once on June 15th and once again in September).
Unfortunately, she was arrested on December 31st 2009. after delivering a message on December 5th for the European Students. She is currently held in Ward 209 of the notorious Evin Prison. Bahareh has been told by the Tehran Prosecutor that her 16-count indictment against her includes heavy charges such as propagating and depicting a dark image of the regime, actively taking part in post-election events, talking to foreign media organisations, insulting the Supreme Leader, insulting the President and conspiracy and assembly to act against national security.
Article published April 8, 2010.