Imprisoned Student Leader
Behareh Hedayat is an Iranian student activist in prison for 10 years on charges including "insulting the president."
Behareh Hedayat was arrested on December 31, 2009, shortly after mass arrests following anti-government protests on the religious festival of Ashoura. She was charged with several “offences”, including “interviews with foreign media,” “insulting the leader,” “insulting the president,” and “disrupting public order through participating in illegal gatherings.”
In May 2010 she was sentenced to six months in prison for “insulting the president”, two years for “insulting the Leader” and five years for “acting against national security.” A two year suspended prison term previously imposed for her participation in the June 2006 demonstration calling for an end to discrimination against women in law was also implemented. An additional six month sentence was added as punishment for having written a letter, together with fellow imprisoned student activist Majid Tavakkoli, in December 2010, encouraging students to continue their peaceful struggle for freedom. Around the beginning of November 2011 Branch 54 of the Tehran Appeals Court upheld the additional six months sentence on the charge of “propaganda against the system.”
In her letter from prison she wrote, “With our hearts together, we united and although disadvantaged in an unfair battle, we fought against tyranny with empty hands. Not only in the streets but also in our hearts, we chose to be calm and collected, but also when confronted with cruelty, our sorrows multiplied. Until such a day as flowers blossom far and wide and the breeze of knowledge blows from every town and village, we envisioned our universities full of colorful and scented flower arches, not prison cells."
On March 8, 2012, The Harald Edelstam Foundation presented its first Edelstam Prize to Behareh Hedayat. The Edelstam Prize is awarded for outstanding contributions and exceptional courage in standing up for one's beliefs in the Defense of Human Rights. The Prize was awarded during a ceremony in the House of Nobility in Stockholm on April 16 but Behareh Hedayat was not able to accept the award in person. The Edelstam Prize Jury's citation says that Ms Hedayat “has through her outstanding courage and commitment to justice actively worked against the violation of the Human Rights in Iran. Despite of serious warnings and threats from the regime's security and intelligence forces, she has repeatedly risked her own life and freedom when defending the Human Rights. She has been arrested upon several occasions, and is imprisoned right now for these reasons. The Harald Edelstam Foundation considers her a prisoner of conscience, and in consequence respectfully asks the authorities of the Republic of Iran to set her free."