USA: Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate will receive 2023 Brown Democracy Medal

Events Oct. 25-26 will honor ‘Iran’s Nelson Mandela’

Two events later this month will honor the work of Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer and human rights advocate who is a leader in the fight to end the mandatory hijab for Iranian women. 

Sotoudeh, who has been described as “Iran’s Nelson Mandela,” will receive the McCourtney Institute for Democracy’s 2023 Brown Democracy Medal. She is under house arrest in Iran and unable to accept the award in person. Jeff Kaufman and Marcia S. Ross, producers of the documentary “Nasrin” about Sotoudeh’s work, will accept it on her behalf.

The McCourtney Institute will host a screening of “Nasrin” at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at the State Theatre in downtown State College, followed by a Q&A with Kaufman and Ross. They will accept the Brown Democracy Medal at 4 p.m. Oct. 26 in Paterno Library’s Foster Auditorium.

Kaufman has known Sotoudeh since 2016 and said he will be honored to share her story with the Penn State community at the film screening award ceremony.

“When I think of Nasrin, and countless other human rights activists around the world facing years of imprisonment and abuse, I am reminded of the young John Lewis leading a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge into an army of state troopers and sheriff’s deputies wielding billy clubs, bullwhips and tear gas,” Kaufmans said. “It’s not a coincidence that both Nasrin and Lewis had images of Mohandas Gandhi on their office walls.”

McCourtney Institute Managing Director Chris Beem said Sotoudeh shows the world what it means to stand up for democracy under the most difficult circumstances.

“Nasrin Sotoudeh’s courageous work defending human rights and the rule of law in Iran are grounded in her equally unshakable commitment to democracy,” Beem said. “That is why she is so worthy of the Brown medal; she is an inspiration to democrats all over the world.”




USA: Iranian lawyer and human rights advocate will receive 2023 Brown Democracy Medal