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Nobel Peace Prize laureate speaks out on Iran

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Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi Photo: deutsche welle / flickr

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi Photo: deutsche welle / flickr

I heard the Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi talk about the situation in Iran on Monday (July 13, 2009). What she said was very impressive.

Shirin Ebadi said many more people have been killed in Iran in the aftermath of the elections than we know now. “What happened in Iran is an obvious human rights violation”, she told a Deutsche Welle journalist.

Ebadi described the first day of demonstrations in Tehran after the Iranian elections: “When the Iranian people demonstrated peacefully, there were no problems – not even a window was broken. But towards the end of the demonstrations shots were fired from office buildings. Some died and many more were injured. That was the beginning to the state’s crackdown. That night at 3 a.m., a student residence was attacked, five students were shot dead and several were injured.”

Journalists attending Shirin Ebadi's press conference Photo: deutsche welle / flickr

Journalists attending Shirin Ebadi's press conference Photo: deutsche welle / flickr

Shirin Ebadi said the government’s actions were neither in line with the Iranian constitution, nor with Islam, nor with human rights.

Ebadi said the Iranian people would continue their demonstrations. But the protest would take on new forms because of the government crackdown on the street demonstrations. Ebadi added that this continuing protest and the criticism from within the Iranian clergy will further destabilize the government.

The Iranian human rights activist called on Germany and Europe to increase the pressure on the Iranian government.

But Ebadi made it very clear that she’s opposed to military intervention and economic sanctions. Those, she said, would only hurt the people of Iran.

Shirin Ebadi criticized the West for only concentrating on the nuclear dispute in its negotiations with Iran. “You wonder,” she said, “whether the Europeans only care about their own security and not the security of the people in Iran.”

She also criticized companies like Nokia and Siemens, saying they had delivered technology to Iran, which is now being used to monitor and control the citizens.

Ebadi is an outspoken human rights activist

I was impressed with Shirin Ebadi’s courage to speak out. Some of her co-workers in Iran have already been imprisoned by the regime. But that doesn’t deter her from fighting for human rights for the people of Iran.

Shirin Ebadi giving a radio interview Photo: deutsche welle / flickr

Shirin Ebadi giving a radio interview Photo: deutsche welle / flickr

When asked whether giving interviews to foreign journalists in the West could cause problems for her in Iran, she replied “That’s not that important to me. I consider this a task that has to be done.”

What surprised me was that Shirin Ebadi had left Iran shortly before the elections and has not been back since then. She said that her co-workers had urged her to stay in Europe and raise awareness for her cause there. She’s in constant contact with her colleagues back home, who keep her informed about the situation in Iran.

Of course, she’s freer to talk and to take action when she’s in Europe than when she’s in Iran. But it’s risky for her, nevertheless. After all, her husband and her family are still in Iran. They might have to suffer the consequences of her actions abroad.

But despite the risks, Shirin Ebadi expressed confidence that she would be able to return home “after I have finished my job here.”

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