2016 Laureates

The Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent celebrates those who, with bravery and ingenuity, unmask the lie of dictatorship by living in truth.

2016 Laureates

The 2016 Havel Prize Laureates are as follows:

Atena Farghadani

Atena Farghadani was a prisoner of conscience of the Iranian regime. She received a 12-year prison sentence for a cartoon she posted on social media depicting Iran’s parliamentarians with animal heads. Farghadani was charged with “colluding against national security,” “spreading propaganda against the system,” and “insulting members of the parliament.” When she was briefly released in 2015, Farghadani publicized the abuse that prisoners suffer in Iranian jails and was promptly put back behind bars. Farghadani then went on hunger strike and suffered a heart attack while in prison. Her case sparked the social media campaign #Draw4Atena, with cartoonists from all over the world sharing their work in support of her case. Farghadani was released on May 3, 2016.

Umida Akhmedova

Umida Akhmedova is a photojournalist and the first female documentary filmmaker in Uzbekistan. She specializes in subjects that have historically been regarded as taboo in the country: gender, poverty, and ethnic issues. In 2009, she was charged with "damaging the country's image" after she published a series of photos about life in rural Uzbekistan. The following year she produced the documentary "The Burden of Virginity," which focused on the challenges faced by women in Uzbekistan. She was charged with slander but was released under amnesty in honor of the anniversary of Uzbek independence. Akhmedova has been charged two more times since 2009. She is currently creating a series of self-portraits in front of political banners to bring attention to the role of visual propaganda in Uzbek life.


In May of 2016 Petr Pavlensky was named one of the laureates of the Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent. The Prize was withdrawn after Mr. Pavlensky announced his intention to dedicate the prize (and its monetary award) to an insurgent group in eastern Russia and then explicitly endorsed the use of violence as a valid method to combat government oppression. An explanation of the Committee's deliberations and decision are contained in its letter to Mr. Pavlensky: English Russian