Wednesday , 12 June 2024

Iran International Awarded the 2024 Geneva Summit Courage Award

iranintl – Iran International was awarded with the 2024 Geneva Summit Courage Award on Wednesday for “fearlessly” uncovering the daily “abuses of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Executive editor Aliasghar Ramezanpoor and television host Pouria Zeraati accepted the Award on behalf of the news network.

“This is an award to Iranian people who are the voice of what is happening inside,” Zeraati said.

After receiving the award, Ramezanpoor and Zeraati spoke on a panel with Brandon Silver, Director of Policy and Projects at the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights (RWCHR).

During that conversation, they discussed Iran’s grave humanitarian situation and why the Islamic Republic branded Iran International a terrorist organization.

“I think the reason the regime is against Iran International as a media organization is that they are afraid of the free flow of information, which cannot be stopped in the 21st century,” Zeraati said.

He explained the reason is twofold: the regime does not want people to know what they are deprived of, namely the social democratic values people desire, and it does not wish the rest of the world to know about the atrocities they commit inside their country.

Ramezanpoor drew attention to the grave situation of journalists inside Iran who bravely reported what was happening, particularly Elahe Mohamadi and Niloufar Hamedi, who broke the story of Mahsa Jina Amini for the first time.

22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini died at the hands of the so-called morality police in September 2022. Her death sparked a monthslong nationwide protest, often dubbed the Woman, Life, Freedom movement, during which authorities killed at least 550 protesters and tens of thousands were detained – including scores of journalists.

The two female journalists were jailed for over a year for covering the death of Amini. While they were released on bail in January, they “technically are under house arrest and cannot do their work”, Ramzanpoor said.

During the panel discussion, Zeraati, who was stabbed while leaving his London residence in late March, said that what happened to him showed that the Western government’s policy of diplomacy and negotiating with the regime doesn’t work.

“What they can do [the Western governments] is send a clear message to Tehran that if this is repeated, there will be severe and more serious consequences for you,” Zeraati said.

Pointing out to the sanctions the UK government imposed on the Islamic Republic after ITV revealed that there was a plot against two of Iran’s International journalists that was foiled by British Security Services in 2022, Zeraati said: “What happened to me was about three months after those sanctions, That shows that those sanctions were not impactful enough.”

On the opening day of the summit, Zeraati also called for the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a measure to reduce the regime’s international impact.

Iranian government threats have targeted Iran International for years. After risks to staff reached a point where domestic security services could not ensure their safety, the news network temporarily relocated its London offices to Washington last year.

During the summit, which raises awareness about human rights situations that require urgent global action, Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an academic previously jailed in Iran for over two years, described her harrowing ordeal inside the Islamic Republic’s prisons.

She also called on Western governments to stop their “empty words” and take action to support Iranians.

Moore-Gilbert said that shortly after the 2022 Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran was suppressed by the authorities, Western governments “rushed right back into business as usual mode in their dealings with Tehran” and “turned a blind eye to enforcing oil sanctions. Unfreezing Iranian assets to the tune of billions, issuing sanctions waivers, which enrich the regime by further billions.”

The Australian-British academic was arrested at Tehran Airport by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) on September 12, 2018. She was subsequently convicted of espionage in a closed-door trial, and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Moore-Gilbert, a University of Melbourne lecturer in Islamic studies, was released in November 2020 in a prisoner swap with three Iranian prisoners in Thailand, two of whom had been convicted in connection with a bombing plot in Bangkok in 2012.

She also criticized the UK, Canada, and Australia for not designating the IRGC as a terrorist entity, in its entirety.

“To the Western governments, I say it’s not too late to stand by the Iranian people in a meaningful, impactful way in their quest for freedom. Woman Life Freedom is not over. It’s still boiling away. It will erupt again, and when it does, we can be ready.”

US-based advocate Gazelle Sharmahd shared her speech via video after she was informed that the regime in Iran may target her should she travel to Switzerland for the summit.

Sharmahd, the daughter of German-American prisoner Jamshid Sharmahd, who has been sentenced to death in Iran, has long advocated for the release of her father.

“I wish I could be there with you today in person, but unfortunately, we live in a world where terrorists are invited on the red carpets and activists have to fend for their own lives. I was told it’s not safe for me to travel because the Islamic regime is watching my every step, and I could be assassinated or kidnapped like my father.”

A 69-year-old California resident, Jamshid Sharmahd, was abducted by Iranian agents while visiting the United Arab Emirates in 2020. Iranian authorities sentenced him to death for “endangering national security” in February 2023, a verdict that the Supreme Court upheld.

Sharmahd, who holds German and Iranian citizenship, was convicted of heading a pro-monarchist group named Tondar, responsible for a deadly bomb attack that killed 14 people and injured 215 in Shiraz in 2008.

Sharmahd and his family deny the charges, and Iranian authorities have not provided evidence to support their accusations. Amnesty International has branded the Iranian judicial system’s trial a sham.

Gazelle Sharmahd also criticized Western governments for not supporting the Iranian diaspora, saying, “More activists and journalists are facing death threats as a nation plots kidnapping plots stabbings on American and European soil.”

“And when they ask their Western governments for protection, they’re told to stop their activism. Don’t go to rallies. Don’t go to conferences or go into witness protection. So, in other words, shut up or protect yourself from terror plots,” Sharmahd added.