I send my deepest congratulations to jailed Iranian journalist Ahmad Zeidabadi for being named the 2011 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom prize winner. Mr. Zeidabadi, along with his fellow activists, have been banned for life from political or civic activities. This award is a recognition of his legitimate work and the work of the numerous other Iranian journalists who are currently jailed for their courageous efforts to forge a new path for Iran – one where every citizen has the right to express themselves free from persecution or violence.
This award is also a recognition of the rich culture and strong commitment to human rights by the Iranian people, despite brutal repression by their government. The United States will continue to stand up for the rights of all Iranian people, through the United Nations and working with the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur established last month.
The United States looks forward to hosting this year’s World Press Freedom Day conference to honor Mr. Zeidabadi and all those who stand up for the rights of Iranian people. Together with journalists, fellow member states and NGOs dedicated to the fight for freedom of expression -- in particular press freedom – we will continue this discussion about how to fuel more opportunities for change in Iran and around the world.