The Daniele Po Prize 2023 has been awarded to exiled Kurdish-Iranian activist and former political prisoner Zeinab Bayazidi.
At the awards ceremony Bayazidi dedicated her prize to Kurdish political prisoner Zeinab Jalalian, the only female political prisoner serving a life sentence in Iran. The 21 October event, hosted in Bologna, Italy, was attended by city officials and civil society representatives.
“The prize awarded to Zeinab Bayazidi aims to honour the courage of women who are agents of change, not only in Iran but in all countries where freedom is denied,” the organising committee of the Daniele Po Prize said.
Recognition of marginalised women’s resistance
“The significance of this award lies in the recognition of the struggles and resistance of women and marginalised groups,” Zeinab Bayazidi told Medya News. “I am pleased that this award brings attention to the plight of female prisoners like Zeinab Jalalian in Iran. It’s also important to highlight the Jin, Jiyan, Azadî movement in the Middle East, especially in Iran, which represents the demands of oppressed minorities.”
Previous winners of this award include women’s rights activists Malalai Joya from Afghanistan and Peace Mothers from Turkey.
Born in 1982 in Mahabad, Iran (East or Rojhelat Kurdistan), Bayazidi has been a prominent rights activist for the region. She was imprisoned for nearly five years due to her work.
Bayazidi has collaborated with various organisations, including the Kurdistan Human Rights Defence Organisation, the Kurdistan Reconciliation Mothers Group, and the One Million Signatures Campaign, all aimed at challenging discriminatory laws against women.
She was first arrested in 2004 when Iranian security forces detained her for participation in social and civil activities considered “propaganda against the regime”. After 40 days in custody, Bayazidi was released on bail before finally receiving a six-month suspended sentence.
In 2007, she was arrested again and sentenced to four years behind bars in Iran’s Zanjan on charges of “propaganda against the regime” and “actions against national security”. She was released in November 2012.
Faced with ongoing pressures, Bayazidi was forced into exile in Germany where she has continued her activism for over a decade.
The Kurdistan Human Rights Network congratulated Bayazidi on her international ‘Daniele Po’ award, stating that her efforts “epitomise the embodiment of the slogan ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî’ [‘Woman, Life, Freedom’] which is now gaining global recognition”.