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ZIMBABWEAN, IRANIAN SHARE MARTIN ENNALS HUMAN RIGHTS PRIZE

Arnold Tsunga, a Zimbabwean lawyer and human rights activist, and Akbar Ganji, an Iranian journalist recently released from prison, have been named co-winners of the 2006 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders.

The annual award is one of the most prestigious in the human rights field, and is normally given to an individual who has demonstrated an exceptional record of combating human rights violations by courageous and innovative means.

The award comes with a 20,000 Swiss Francs (US$16,500) grant to be used for further work in human rights.

Tsunga is Chairman of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (Zimrights), Executive Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), and a trustee of the radio station Voice of the People (VOP), which produces independent programmes on political issues.

He has been threatened and harassed on several occasions for criticising Zimbabwe's legal system and calling attention to human rights abuses. In January 2006, he and five other VOP trustees were arrested and charged with broadcasting without a licence. While he has since been released on bail, Tsunga faces two years in prison if convicted.

Akbar Ganji was released from prison on 18 March 2006 after serving a jail sentence of almost six years. As a journalist for the former newspaper "Sobb-e-Emrooz", Ganji wrote articles linking Iranian officials to the 1998 assassinations of political opponents, writers and journalists.

During his imprisonment, he staged several hunger strikes and was beaten by guards. Ganji has won numerous human rights awards, including the World Association of Newspapers' Golden Pen of Freedom and the CJFE International Press Freedom Award.
For more information on the Martin Ennals Award, contact Luis Marreiros, Coordinator:
Tel: +41 22 809 49 25; E-mail: marreiros@martinennalsaward.org
Visit these links:

- Martin Ennals Award: http://www.martinennalsaward.org/
- Profile of Arnold Tsunga: http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/defenders/hrd_zimbabwe/alert_020806.htm
- Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights: http://www.zlhr.org.zw/about/index.htm
- Profile of Akbar Ganji: http://www.wan-press.org/article9226.html

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