Judy Shelton, Vice Chairman, National Endowment for Democracy
A Statement from the President of the United States (read statement)
Remarks by Samantha Power
Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs, NSC (see video/read remarks)
Iran: A Struggle for Freedom
A brief film by Iranian filmmaker Babak Payami
Introduced and narrated by Azar Nafisi (see video)
Presentation of Award
Accepted in absentia by Simin Behbahani
Statement read by Mahnaz Afkhami (see video)
Carl Gershman, President, National Endowment for Democracy (see video)
A musical performance by Mohsen Namjoo
One year after the disputed elections that triggered the massive demonstrations, the struggle for democracy in Iran continues despite massive repression. Peaceful protests have been violently suppressed, and thousands of students, women activists, journalists and others have been imprisoned or forced into exile. Prisoners have been tortured and raped, and some have died in detention or been executed.
Controls have been tightened on the entire population, especially in the area of Internet communications. Yet as the anniversary of the election approaches, the regime has felt the need to mobilize millions of paramilitaries, re-arrest many dissident activists, and take other drastic measures to thwart anticipated protests, thereby acknowledging that the Green Movement for democracy is still very much alive.
The movement’s perseverance for this length of time is unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic. By coming together in such great numbers around the common principle that a citizen’s vote should be respected and that the country’s leaders should not have arbitrary and unaccountable power, the movement has broken the myth of the Islamic regime’s permanence and given the people hope for a better future. It is this hope that accounts for the movement’s extraordinary diversity.
The movement’s perseverance for this length of time is unprecedented in the history of the Islamic Republic.
Not only have different reform currents of students, women, workers and intellectuals come together for the first time, but each of these currents has broadened and deepened. Previously apolitical young people have learned the skills of dissident activism. Conservative women have been forced into politics because of the fate of their husbands, children, and friends. Once quiescent workers have joined the movement over concerns about unpaid wages, rising unemployment, and rampant corruption. And dissidents and reformers of various political perspectives have joined together in a common struggle for change.
As the movement has grown, it has also evolved philosophically. Once a protest movement against a stolen election, it now raises broader issues of human rights such as freedom of expression, assembly and communication and the personal freedoms of lifestyle and dress. Having hit a wall of repression from the government, activists have also begun to question the constitution and the Velayat-E Faqih, or Rule of the Guardian. This striving for a new democratic and constitutional order now involves even those who were part of the regime’s leadership at the inception of the Islamic Republic.
…the global democratic movement, which has been called upon to embrace the people of Iran and to make their struggle its own.
As a result of the Green Movement’s simple call for the Iranian government to accord the people the decent respect that is their right, it has connected with the global democratic movement, which has been called upon to embrace the people of Iran and to make their struggle its own.
The National Endowment for Democracy is proud to add its voice to this international solidarity and, through the presentation of its Democracy Award, to recognize the democracy movement of Iran for its tenacity and courage, and for being a source of democratic inspiration to the entire world.
The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation
The John B. Hurford Foundation
The American Federation of Teachers
The Taipei Education and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S.
NED is grateful for the generous assistance of
Thomas Marsh, sculptor
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Ben Moses and Amy Martinez