|Continuing the Fight Abroad
Now based in Belgium, Babaei continues the fight, beyond her country’s borders, against gender discrimination and the mandatory hijab.
When the death in custody of Mahsa Amini sparked mass protests in September 2022, Babaei became a leading voice in the Iranian diaspora.
« At the very same building in the morality police headquarters, they treated me as a criminal, put me in handcuffs and disgraced me,” she told CNN.
Babaei was one of four activists invited to meet with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysée Palace, in a landmark meeting for the Iranian opposition with a European leader.
Fighting to Free Her Father, Dissident Ebrahim Babaei
Shima Babaei is also devoted to fighting for the release of her father, Ebrahim Babaei, a former engineering professor and dissident who was forcibly disappeared and imprisoned in December 2021 while attempting to flee Iran.
For years, Ebrahim Babei was repeatedly arrested and brutally punished for peacefully protesting the IRGC, and for supporting his daughter’s activism.
The United Nations reported that he faces « a prison and flogging sentence in two different cases stemming from his peaceful activism, including support of his daughter’s campaigning against compulsory veiling laws. He has several underlying health conditions for which he needs medical treatment and medication, including a heart condition. » He was sentenced to 74 lashes in September 2018 for supporting his daughter.
Amnesty International recently urged tIranian authorities to immediately release Mr. Babaei, « a political activist who remains forcibly disappeared 15 months after attempting to flee Iran, » or to at least disclose his fate and whereabouts.
Previous laureates of the International Women’s Rights Award include Congolese activist Julienne Lusenge, who combats rape as a weapon of war, Pakistani campaigner Gulalai Ismail, who trains women in human rights leadership, and Zarifa Ghafari, the youngest female Afghan mayor and a survivor of three Taliban assassination attempts.
About the 2023 Geneva Summit for Human Rights
Babaei will join other courageous champions of human rights from around the world at this year’s 15th annual Geneva Summit for Human Rights, including dissidents, activists, victims, and relatives of political prisoners from North Korea, Afghanistan, Cuba, Russia, Venezuela, Turkey, China, Zimbabwe, Hong Kong and Nicaragua, who will testify on abuses in their countries.
The event draws a standing-room only audience of more than 800 participants, along with international coverage in major media including CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, Le Monde and TIME magazine.
The global gathering is acclaimed as a one-stop opportunity to hear from and meet front-line human rights advocates, many of whom have personally suffered imprisonment and torture. “It’s a focal point for dissidents worldwide,” said Neuer.
The annual conference will be held ahead of the annual June session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Videos of past speaker testimonies are available at the Geneva Summit’s YouTube channel.
For the full list of Geneva Summit speakers, addressing numerous urgent human rights situations around the globe, please see our media kit.
Admission to this year’s Geneva Summit is free and open to the public, but registration is mandatory. Register here.
The conference will also be available via live webcast at www.genevasummit.org.
Speakers are available for virtual interviews prior to the event, and in person on the day of the event. For media inquiries or interview requests, please email email@example.com to speak with Pat Rose.
We also invite you to use the hashtag #GenevaSummit2023 on social media for news and updates on this year’s awards and speakers.