During an official ceremony took place in the Senate of France
in November Reza Deghati was awarded with the title and the Medal
of "Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Merite" - (Knight
of the National Order of Merit).
The President of the Senate of France and
a number of French Senators, media representatives, Iranian, French
and Afghan intellectuals attended this recognition award ceremony.
Reza Deghati, an Azerbaijani born Iranian photojournalist, received
this prize from the government of France as an award for his work
in reporting the realities and conflicts around the world during
the past three decades and for his endless struggle for the rights
of children against discriminations and illiteracy in developing
Christian Poncelet, the President of the Senate of France, highlighted
Reza's invaluable contribution to Human Rights globally as great
photojournalist. He said: "Tonight we are all gathered here
to witness the recognition of Reza's important activities by the
government of France. He is a man who has shown us the realities
of the world with humanistic eyes. His photographs truly are lessons
of solidarity, faith and humanism for all of us."
Addressing Reza he said:
"The portraits of all the women and men that you have gathered
from all over the world show the uniqueness of mankind. Your special
attention to the fate of vulnerable children in the world has shown
us their innocence through your photos. For the humanitarian work
you have done in the world, and especially in Afghanistan, Sarajevo,
Lebanon, Palestine, in the name of the President of France I make
you "Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Merite".
At the end of his speech Mr. Poncelet called Reza Deghati one of
the honours of France, who is a true fighter for freedom in the
Reza Deghati thanked the President of the Senate and the government
of France for creating the favourable conditions for the pursuit
of the high values of Human Rights and freedom. He said: "this
title and medal will make me work even harder to show the fate of
those most in need around the world."
Born in Tabriz, Azerbaijan province of Iran in 1952, Reza is today
one of the world's best-known photojournalists. His opposition to
the Shah's regime caused him to be imprisoned for more than three
years when he was 22.
"I was accused of taking pictures showing poverty and injustice
The years spent in prison were for him an opportunity to meet all
the Iranian intellectuals who were imprisoned: "It was wonderful
to be together with the greatest writers, philosophers, journalists
and movie directors."
In 1981 he left Iran for Paris, France, where he lives now.
During the last 25 years, he used photographs as a weapon to fight
injustice: "he fights war by shooting his subjects" as
the Times of India wrote. Reza is published by the most prestigious
international magazines and works for the National Geographic and
travels all over the world.
From the Bosphorus to the Great Wall of China, from Lebanon to Afghanistan,
from Rwanda to Sarajevo, Reza shows with infinite humanity not only
torments and upheavals but also the arts, culture and traditions
which are part of mankind.
In the late 1980's and the early 1990's, he released several reports
in the Caucasus including Azerbaijan. Sometimes as the only photojournalist
he witnessed and recorded the brutal repression of popular protests
in Baku by the Soviet troops in 1990 and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
and tragic fate of the Karabakh refugees in Azerbaijan through his
His friendship with Afghan commander Massud, his role as a consultant
to the United Nations in Afghanistan, his cultural affinity to this
country, and particularly his role as a journalist led Reza to found
the non-governmental organization AINA. Based in Kabul, Paris and
Washington, AINA is fighting for the development of independent
media and cultural expression in Afghanistan. AINA's next objective
is to help the other countries to consolidate democracy through
education and independent information.
Over and above his commitment as a man and a journalist, Reza, master
of colours and shadows, offers us a poetical vision of the world.
The Medal of "Chevalier de l'Ordre du Merite" is the highest
distinction in France for humanitarian and cultural actions.
Reza Deghati is the first Azerbaijani to receive such a prestigious