Several members of American Physical Society, APS are laying the groundwork to launch a campaign, calling on the Islamic Republic of Iran to free a prominent Iranian human rights activist, Narges Mohammadi.
Ms. Mohammadi who has a degree in Solid-state Physics, jointly won APS’ 2018 prestigious biannual Sakharov Prize, along with Indian researcher Ravi Kuchimanchi.
In an interview with Radio Farda, a senior member of APS, Amir Hossein Ganjbakhsh says the prestigious prize is named after a Russian nuclear physicist, Andrei Sakharov, known as Father of Soviet Union’s first Hydrogen bomb.
“Although Sakharov was awarded the Stalin and Lenin prizes, he decided to fight for human rights in his homeland where the communist ruling system was responsible for brutally suppressing dissidents and human rights defenders,” Ganjbakhsh notes, adding “Narges Mohammadi, also left her secured job as a physicist to campaign for human rights in Iran”.
Mohammadi is the second Iranian winning APS’ Sakharov Prize, Ganjbakhsh says, reminding that “Omid Kokabee, a young Austin, Texas university educated experimental laser physicist was declared as co-recipient of Sakharov Prize in 2014”.
Kokabee was arrested and imprisoned after visiting Iran, in January 30, 2011. On November 24, 2015, Kokabee, suffering from kidney stones was transferred to hospital. Later, on August 29, 2016 he was released on parole meaning that he can still be taken back to prison should the Islamic Republic’s judiciary decide.
Mohammadi, who has also won the 2011 Per Anger Prize for defending human rights in Iran, was first arrested in 2009 and sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security,” “membership in the Defenders of Human Rights Center,” and “propaganda against the state.”
Upon appeal, her sentence was reduced to six years behind bars and she was released from Zanjan Prison in 2013 on medical grounds, center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) reported.
Mohammadi was arrested again on May 5, 2015, two months after meeting with Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief at the time, at the Austrian Embassy in Tehran to discuss the situation of human rights in Iran, CHRI said in a statement.
In September 2016, Branch 26 of the Tehran Appeals Court upheld a 16-year prison sentence for “membership in the [now banned] Defenders of Human Rights Center,” “assembly and collusion against national security,” and one year for “propaganda against the state.”
Defenders of Human Rights Center is an entity founded by the first Iranian and Muslim woman Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi.
The ceremonies for awarding Sakharov Prize is scheduled to be held in Los Angeles, California from March 5 to 9, 2018.
According to Ganjbakhsh, several physicists are going to launch a campaign calling upon Iranian authorities to free Mohammadi and let her attend awarding Skharov Prize ceremonies in U.S