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Sister of barred Iranian feminist accepts Palme prize

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Sister of barred Iranian feminist accepts Palme prize
08:05 CET+01:00
Iranian feminist Parvin Ardalan's sister accepted a major Swedish rights award, the Olof Palme Prize, on her behalf on Thursday after she was prevented by Tehran from attending the ceremony.

Mikael Näve, a secretary at the Olof Palme Memorial Fund, told AFP that Shirin Ardalan had accepted the prize in the presence of about 150 people.

A figurehead of the Iranian women's movement, Parvin Ardalan, 36, had been due to accept her award in person but Iranian authorities ordered her off a flight preparing to take off from Tehran for Stockholm at the weekend.

Ardalan was honoured for her women's rights campaign in Iran.

She founded a women's cultural centre in the 1990s and in 2005 published the first online newsletter on women's rights in Iran -- "Zanestan".

She was sentenced to three years in jail in April 2007 after being declared a threat to national security for criticizing the state of women's rights in Iran, according to the Swedish fund.

She has appealed the verdict and has yet to serve time in prison.

The award is named after Palme, a popular Swedish prime minister who was gunned down by a lone attacker in February 1986, shortly after leaving a Stockholm cinema.

Created to promote peace and disarmament and combat racism and xenophobia, the prize consists of a diploma and $75,000 dollars.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt criticized the Iranian authorities travel ban imposed on Ardalan.

"The work of Ms Ardalan and her colleagues is of particular importance to the situation of women in Iran. Unfortunately, this is but one of a number of examples showing that respect for human rights in Iran continues to deteriorate," Bildt said in a statement.

His comments came after a deterioration in Swedish-Iranian ties.

A Swedish diplomat was forced to leave Iran in February after Stockholm had asked an Iranian diplomat to leave earlier in the year, the Swedish foreign ministry said on Thursday.

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