PaykanArtCar, a non-profit organization collaborating with artists to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and human rights in Iran, was awarded yesterday the Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the 2022 Oslo Freedom Forum.The award, established in 2012 by the Human Rights Foundation, honors exceptional artists advocating for human rights and using creativity to “challenge injustice and live in truth”. The prize was named after the late Czech dissident playwright and politician, Václav Havel in recognition of his combat against arbitrary power, tyranny and injustice.
Previous laureates include Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, South Sudanese activist and musician Emmanuel Jal, Saudi women’s rights activist Manal al-Sharif, Chinese Dissident artist Badiucao and the late Rwandan gospel musician and activist Kizito Mihigo. PaykanArtCar was launched in 2021 after the purchase at an auction of an iconic Paykan automobile, which one belonged to the Shah of Iran and was later gifted to Romanian dictator Nicolae CeauÈ™escu.
The organization commissions marginalized but talented Iranian artists to use the car as a canvas to highlight human rights struggles in Iran. The inaugural PaykanArtCar was commissioned to Alireza Shojaian, an Iranian LGBTQ+ artist and activist, who transformed an iconic Paykan automobile, symbol of Iran’s industrial and dynastic past, into a vehicle for human rights challenging the contemporary mistreatment of the LGBTQ+ community in Iran.
Commenting on PaykanArtCar’s , Dr. Hiva Feizi, Executive Director of PaykanArtCar said: “It is a great honor to have been awarded the Havel Prize for creative dissent and to be recognized as a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. We are delighted that the PaykanArtCar, once an automobile given by the Shah of Iran to the Romanian dictator Nicolae CeauÈ™escu, is now a vehicle for freedom of expression and human rights of all in Iran, regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation”.