Majid Tavakoli Wins the International Student Peace Prize

Majid Tavakoli stares into the distance, holding a microphone

Friday, 31 Shahrivar 1391 (September 21, 2012)

Majid Tavakoli has won the 2013 International Student Peace Prize.

According to Daneshjoo News, Tavakoli, one of the leaders of the Iranian student movement and a member of Tahkim Vahdat (the Office for Strengthening Unity), was announced as the winner of the International Student Peace Prize at a ceremony in Norway this afternoon.

The selection committee for this prize dedicated it to Tavakoli on account of his peaceful activism for freedom of expression and democracy.

Later in the ceremony, Norway's foreign minister referred to Tavakoli by saying that the Student Peace Prize has been awarded to a brave young individual.

The published announcement goes on to refer to the role of students in Iranian society and the fact that many of them have been barred from pursuing their studies.

"This prize is a clear message to the Iranian government"

Jan Torre Sanner, a representative for Norway's second-largest political party, stated later in the ceremony that this prize was a clear message to the Iranian regime that the international community was paying attention to conditions inside Iran.

The published announcement also refers to state of human rights abuses in Iran and the "We Are All Majid" campaign, stating that the winner of the Student Peace Prize is an example of, and a representative for, all students and political activists.

The Student Peace Prize, which is conferred biannually by the Student Committee of Norway, is being awarded to an imprisoned student for the second time. Burmese student Min Ko Naing was awarded the prize in 2001. He was released early this year.

The award ceremony for this prize will take place next February at the International Student Festival in Trondheim, Norway.

What is the Student Peace Prize?

Over the last 13 years, the Student Peace Prize has supported students who have taken steps for peace, human rights, and democracy. The prize was awarded for the first time at the International Student Festival in Trondheim (ISFiT) in 1999.

To date, seven laureates from Burma, East Timor, Zimbabwe, Colombia, Western Sahara, and Croatia have received the biannual award.

This year, Majid Tavakoli has been named the recipient of the prize.

Tavakoli, a shipbuilding student at Amir Kabir Industrial University (Tehran Polytechnic) was arrested for the third time on December 7, 2009.

Tavakoli, a former member of the Central Committee of the Organization of Islamic Students at Amir Kabir University, was violently arrested by members of the security forces. He was arrested while trying to leave the university after an address he had given to a gathering of students on the anniversary of Student Day. In the month of Dey of that year [January 2010], Branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced him to eight years in prison, five years of abstention from political activity, and five years of being banned from leaving the country for "plotting against the regime", "propaganda against the regime", "insulting the Supreme Leader", and "insulting the President". Another court later sentenced him to six additional months in prison for "propaganda against the system" on account of a letter he wrote from prison on the occasion of Student Day.

This student activist had been arrested twice before. He was arrested for the first time, in Ordibehest of 1382 [2006], during the events which surrounded the forging of student publications from Amir Kabir University. He spent more than ten months in prison. During the month of Bahman in 1387 [March 2009], he was arrested in front of the shrine where a ceremony for the anniversary of [Iranian revolutionary and head of the interim government in 1979] Mehdi Bazargan's passing was being held, spending 11 days in solitary confinement.

Tavakoli is currently serving his sentence in Rajai Shahr prison in Karaj, and, without any furlough since the beginning of his imprisonment, is effectively in exile . He has also been barred from any communication by telephone. 




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