Ukraine, Iran women activists win Sweden’s Olof Palme human rights prize

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Three women from Ukraine, Iran and Turkey on Monday won Sweden’s Olof Palme human rights prize for 2023 for championing women’s rights and freedoms.

Marta Chumalo of Ukraine, Iran’s Narges Mohammadi, and Eren Keskin of Turkey were honored for “their efforts in the fight to secure women’s freedom, in an age when human rights are threatened by war, violence and oppression,” the Olof Palme Memorial Fund said in a statement.


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Chumalo, a psychologist and feminist, was highlighted for being one of the founders of “Women’s Perspectives,” an NGO promoting women’s rights and combating violence against women.

“Since 2014, and especially since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Marta Chumalo has been heavily involved in raising awareness about the effects of the war, and in addressing the needs of its victims,” the fund said.

Journalist and human rights activist Mohammadi “has been a central figure in the struggle for women’s rights and freedom of speech in Iran,” the jury said.

She was one of the founders of the Iranian National Peace Council. Her involvement in championing women’s rights “has led to her repeated arrest, and she has served several prison terms.”

She has been incarcerated since November 2021 after being convicted of “propaganda activity against the state,” the fund said.
Human rights lawyer Eren Keskin was honored for having spent decades defending those discriminated against in her country, including “ethnic minorities, LGBTQI+ people and refugees.”

The jury noted that she has been the target of both death threats and prosecutions and “has also been imprisoned for her beliefs,” leading Amnesty International to name her “a prisoner of conscience.”

An award ceremony will be held in Stockholm on February 1.

The Olof Palme Prize is an annual prize worth $100,000, awarded by the Olof Palme Memorial Fund.

It commemorates the memory of Sweden’s Social Democratic prime minister Olof Palme, an outspoken international human rights advocate -- and vehement opponent of US involvement in the Vietnam War -- who was assassinated in Stockholm in 1986.

Since 1987, the award has honored human rights defenders around the world, including Congolese doctor and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan and Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg.

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