09/12/2020

Acceptance speech – Nasrin Sotoudeh

Your support brings us even closer to achieving our goals and also brings us all closer to the ultimate goal we all seek: to achieve a world of peace, harmony and mutual respect.

I am deeply grateful to Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde for her very kind introduction.

Dear Friends, 

It is an honour to be in the presence of the Right Livelihood Family. 

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Right Livelihood Foundation for the vision, love and friendship that radiate through its work. I am honoured to be part of a ceremony, now a tradition, that affirms and enriches our shared humanity. 

Indeed, for me, your kind presence here today is a manifestation of the words of Saadi, the great Persian poet of the 13th century, words which adorn the walls of the United Nations and which reflect the spirit  of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: 

All human beings are members of one frame 

Since all, at first from the same essence came. 

When time afflicts a limb with pain 

The other limbs at rest cannot remain. 

While still in prison, in the difficult days of my hunger strike, as my family was also under increased judicial pressures, I learned from my husband Reza Khandan that I had received the “Alternative Nobel”  prize along with three distinguished civil society activists from around the globe. 

Undoubtedly, it was a tremendous honour for me to be one of the recipients of this award. And, of course, under those difficult conditions, it provided me and my family with renewed energy to carry on my path. 

At the same time, in October, with the 25th-anniversary celebration of the Convention against the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, I was the beneficiary of many actions reflecting the solidarity of women from around the world.

In this regard too, I received unconditional backing, which is particularly meaningful to me. Your foundation played an exemplary role in mobilising this support. 

I have no doubt that the judicial relief that resulted in the decision to grant me a temporary medical release is the result of this deep solidarity and friendship. 

During the years when I was imprisoned solely on account of carrying out my professional duties, I have benefitted from the support of the public and foundations such as yours. 

Such unprecedented global support makes it unnecessary for me to have to explain to my children why it is that their mother has been in prison since they were very young. 

As someone who has always carried the dream of being a citizen, of being equal and being endowed with rights, I envy the power and protection citizenship confers upon members of other societies. 

But I know that you have also traversed a path with many twists and turns in order to find democracy and that you safeguard your democracy, which is so precious, each and every day. 

In this regard, Iran’s civil society, as part of a global community that wants to live and thrive in this part of the world, relies on values derived from our shared humanity. 

By taking the most peaceful steps over these many long years, Iranian civil society has been on the difficult path towards attaining democracy. Like people all over the world, Iranians wish to live in peace,  justice and freedom. And of course, the legal community is playing its role in this regard. 

While I am deeply grateful for the honour of joining the company of the many distinguished Laureates who have received this award, I would like to draw your attention to the plight of all the political prisoners in Iran and ask that you join us in calling for their health and freedom. 

I wish to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation, its board of trustees and distinguished judges, and to convey my congratulations to my fellow Laureates, Lottie Cunningham Wren, Bryan Stevenson and Ales Bialiatski. 

I hope that our mutual efforts towards creating a better world bear fruit. 

With my deepest respect, 

Nasrin Sotoudeh 

December 3, 2020 

Iran, Tehran