The United Nations Tuesday night announced that three women imprisoned in Iran have been awarded its premier journalism prize “for their commitment to truth and accountability.”
Among the winners of the U.N. Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Press Freedom Prize is Niloufar Hamedi, who broke the story of the September 16 death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody after she was arrested on the 13th by the morality police for not properly wearing a religious head covering called a hijab.
The story touched off months of protests, posing the most serious challenge to the Islamic Republic since the 2009 Green Movement drew millions of protesters, and even raised questions about the fate of Iran’s morality police.
In the wake of the protests, the Iranian regime has executed at least 15 men while Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has pardoned more than 22,000 demonstrators.
According to the group Human Rights Activists in Iran, at least 529 people have been killed amid the protests.
A second imprisoned U.N. award winner is journalist Elaheh Mohammadi who wrote about Amini’s funeral. The third winner is Narges Mohammadi, who has worked for years as a journalist as well as a prominent activist in Iran.
While nearly 100 journalists have been arrested amid the demonstrations, Hamedi and Elaheh Mohammadi’s reporting is viewed as having been crucial in helping to spread word of the anger that followed Amini’s death.
The UNESCO Freedom Prize is named for Guillermo Cano, a Colombian journalist who was assassinated in front of the offices of his newspaper El Espectador in Bogota in December 1986. UNESCO has awarded the prize to coincide with World Press Freedom Day on May 3 since 1997.