Iran’s Human Rights Defenders have given this year’s Human Rights Activist award to Zahedan’s Friday Mass Imam, Mowlavi Abdolhamid Esmail Zehi.

The Human Rights Defenders Centre website reports that the Sunni leader was awarded the prize on Tuesday December 23 for “his relentless efforts to promote conciliatory relations among different religious and ethnic groups in Sistan-Baluchistan.”

The Human Rights Defenders Centre was established by Iranian Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi in 2001, and it has given out an annual Human Rights Activist award since 2007. Ayatollah Montazeri, Ezzatollah Sahabi, Abbas Amirentezam and Taghi Rahmani are among its former recipients.

The centre lauds Mowlavi Abdolhamid’s “open and transparent activities modeling peaceful coexistence” as well as his advocacy for civil activists, women and the people of Sistan Baluchistan despite pressure tactics by official bodies aimed at himself, his family and colleagues.