IEA’s Executive Director presents freedom medal to Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister for Energy

14 May 2012

From left: The Iraqi ambassador to the Netherlands, Ibrahim Al-Ali, Deputy Prime Minister Al-Shahristani and Ms. Van der Hoeven. © The Roosevelt Stichting/Lex de Meester Fotografie

The Deputy Prime Minister for Energy in Iraq, Dr. Hussain Al-Shahristani, has been awarded the Freedom from Fear Medal, which recognises a lifelong commitment to democratic values in the face of overwhelming challenges.

The Four Freedoms Medals are presented biennially to individuals and organisations that have made significant contributions to advancing freedom on a global scale. The recipients were selected by the Roosevelt Stichting, a private foundation set up specifically to organise the awards, and the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute, which promotes values espoused by the former US President and First Lady.

Dr. Al-Shahristani, who served as Iraqi Minister of Oil before taking on his current role, spent more than a decade as a political prisoner in Abu Ghraib prison after first being arrested for his opposition to the government’s persecution of political opponents, and then kept captive after refusing to help the regime build an atomic weapon. He eventually escaped during a bombing raid on Baghdad during the first Gulf War and fled to Iran. While there, he was head of the Gulf War Victims Organisation from 1991-1995. He continued supporting this cause as head of the Iraqi Refugees Aid Council between and then as head of the Iraqi Political Prisoners Union.

“Thirty-three years ago a brutal dictator [Saddam Hussein] tried to silence your call for human rights. Since that time you have endured torture, imprisonment, and exile,” said International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven, who was asked by the Roosevelt Institute to present the medal. “But throughout all of this, you never gave in to bitterness or hatred, and never lost faith in the capacity of your fellow citizen to fashion a new democratic Iraq. Your dedication to that vision – to the building of a country where freedom from fear is a reality for all of its citizens – is why we honour and thank you.”

Ms. Van der Hoeven presented the medal to Dr. Al-Shahristani at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Awards 2012 ceremony, which took place in Middelburg in the Netherlands on 12 May.

The IEA is currently receiving strong support from Dr. Al-Shahristani as it undertakes a comprehensive analytical study of Iraq, which will be released as a special early report from the 2012 World Energy Outlook on 9 October.

The IEA flagship publication will analyse the role of the energy sector in the Iraqi economy, examining both its role in satisfying the country’s domestic needs and its crucial role in global energy supply and security. It will address the supply outlook and investment needs, both in power generation, transmission and distribution as well as in hydrocarbon development. It will also look at the implications of Iraqi energy developments for the environment and water use.