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11 Oct 2009 05:106 Comments

Our Laureate: Neda of Iran

WaPo | Oct. 10, 2009

The Nobel Committee's decision is especially puzzling given that a better alternative was readily apparent. This year, hundreds of thousands of ordinary people in Iran braved ferocious official violence to demand their right to vote and to speak freely. Dozens were killed, thousands imprisoned. One of those killed was a young woman named Neda Agha-Soltan; her shooting by thugs working for the Islamist theocracy, captured on video, moved the world. A posthumous award for Neda, as the avatar of a democratic movement in Iran, would have recognized the sacrifices that movement has made and encouraged its struggle in a dark hour. Democracy in Iran would not only set a people free, it would also dramatically improve the chances for world peace, since the regime that murdered her is pursuing nuclear weapons in defiance of the international community.

Announcing Friday that he would accept the award, Mr. Obama graciously offered to share it with "the young woman who marches silently in the streets on behalf of her right to be heard even in the face of beatings and bullets." But the mere fact that he avoided mentioning either Neda's name or her country, presumably out of consideration for the Iranian regime with which he is attempting to negotiate, showed the tension that sometimes exists between "diplomacy and cooperation between peoples" on the one hand, and advocacy of human rights on the other. The Nobel Committee could have spared Mr. Obama this dilemma if it had given Neda the award instead of him.

Iran defiant as three more given death penalty over election protests

The Guardian | Oct. 11, 2009

Iran has sentenced to death three more protesters who were arrested after the country's disputed presidential election in June. The verdicts came despite a widespread international protest over the death penalty given last week to a man identified as Mohammad Reza Ali Zamani, a member of a group seeking to reinstate the country's monarchy.

The sentences were said to be for involvement in the countrywide protests that followed Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election as president in polls many Iranians said were rigged. The authorities have rejected the charges and portrayed the protests as a foreign-backed bid to undermine the Islamic republic.

Announcing the latest sentences through the ISNA news agency, Zahed Bashiri Rad, a spokesman for the justice ministry, said: "Three people who were accused [for their role] in the post-election incidents have been sentenced to death."

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The problem is, it is no longer possible to nominate someone who has died for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Is it possible to nominate someone for a posthumous Nobel Prize?

No, it is not. Previously, a person could be awarded a prize posthumously if he/she had already been nominated (before February 1 of the same year), which was true of Erik Axel Karlfeldt (Nobel Prize in Literature 1931) and Dag Hammarskjöld (Nobel Peace Prize, 1961). Effective from 1974, the prize may only go to a deceased person to whom it was already awarded (usually in October) but who had died before he/she could receive the Prize on December 10 (William Vickrey, 1996 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel). See also par. 4 of the Statutes of the Nobel Foundation.

I am not in agreement with this policy, I'm just letting people know that it exists.

Peg / October 11, 2009 5:55 AM

Posthumous nominations are not permitted for the Nobel Prizes. It is as simple as that.

Well done for Obama to dedicate his prize to Neda and millions of courageous Iranian who stood up against tyranny.

Aristotle / October 11, 2009 5:57 AM

ONE cannot stay on the fence forever.
Sooner or later ya gotta take a stand.
We will see
A certain prez came here to the UN and his riduclous statements about Neda were so reprehensible.
God bless all your people in your struggle.

m montgomery / October 11, 2009 6:01 AM

President Barack Obama was given the Nobel Peace Prize for Diplomacy. It is probably in recognition for his reversal of the politic language of dogmatic opposition practiced on a global scale by his predecessor, George W. Bush and others. Dialogue between nations is once again possible on an individual level and not no longer on the basis of "Whoever is not with us is against us." This is indeed a major step forward internationally and was recognized as such by the Nobel committee.

Michael Ricks / October 11, 2009 6:58 PM

Barack Obama would never refuse any award, deserved or not, because he is a shamelessly narcissistic glory luster.

Alex Sinclair / October 11, 2009 9:15 PM

He should have dedicated it also to Sherbini, the Egyptian Muslim pregnant woman, who was stabbed to death 18 times in front of German Court Officials who failed to prevent her murder right in front of them. She was a victim of the deep hostility that Muslims suffer regularly in Europe. She was simply exercising her right not to be subjected to such psychological abuse and for that was murdered in a Court of Law in front of the judge and other court officials. With Neda, who actually was not involved politically, and happened to be in the wrong place in the midst of clashes between Iranian security forces and protesters and by all accounts was likely to have been an accidental victim not intentionally murdered as was Sherbini.

rezvan / October 13, 2009 4:26 AM