9-2007: C. M. Iversen: Shirin Ebadi visits Norway: Increased repression in Iran

Shirin Ebadi visits Norway:
Crackdown on free expression and human rights increasing in Iran.

At a meeting with representatives from several Norwegian NGOs at the Human Rights House in Oslo last Friday, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi gave an update of the situation for the press and for human rights activists in Iran.

«The situation is worsening daily.  There has been an increase in executions, also of citizens under the age of 18», says Ebadi and adds that she is currently trying to stop the executions of two 15-year olds.  She blames the «bad» laws and the legal system for this situation.  She has started a campaign at her human rights centre in Teheran, sending people on door-to-door visits to collect signatures in order to fight the oppressive legal system.  She asks for more international focus on these executions and claims that authorities sentence 15-year olds to death and then put then execution on hold until they are 18.

Ebadi also told her story about the recent visit of Louise Arbour – the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to Teheran last month.  Iranian authorities ordered the press not to write about the visit fearing that people and organisations would be wanting to meet with her.  But somebody learned about her visit and while Arbour was on her way to the UN office in Teheran, the families of 12 jailed political prisoners were holding a demonstration outside the building.  The police, while beating up the demonstrators outside the UN-office, desperately tried to slow down Arbour´s car.  Finally, UN-staff intervened, Ebadi informed Arbour about the incident and she promised to raise it with the authorities.

Her own situation is difficult and she receives threaths every day.  She has spent part of the money from the Nobel Prize to set up offices in her Center for Human Rights Defenders, even though she has been warned by authorities that the office is illegal.  Her center does not accept any sort of financial aid from national or foreign sources.  Its activities are based on free work and membership fees only.

The opposition among the people grows stronger every day due to increasing powerty.  She has refused to take on any form of political leadership saying that her role is that of the human rights defender.

18.09.07    Carl Morten Iversen

Shirin Ebadi visits Norway: Crackdown on free expression and human rights increasing in Iran

At a meeting with representatives from several Norwegian NGOs at the Human Rights House in Oslo last Friday, Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi gave an update of the situation for the press and for human rights activists in Iran.

«The situation is worsening daily.  There has been an increase in executions, also of citizens under the age of 18», says Ebadi and adds that she is currently trying to stop the executions of two 15-year olds.  She blames the «bad» laws and the legal system for this situation.  She has started a campaign at her human rights centre in Teheran, sending people on door-to-door visits to collect signatures in order to fight the oppressive legal system.  She asks for more international focus on these executions and claims that authorities sentence 15-year olds to death and then put then execution on hold until they are 18.

Ebadi also told her story about the recent visit of Louise Arbour – the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to Teheran last month.  Iranian authorities ordered the press not to write about the visit fearing that people and organisations would be wanting to meet with her.  But somebody learned about her visit and while Arbour was on her way to the UN office in Teheran, the families of 12 jailed political prisoners were holding a demonstration outside the building.  The police, while beating up the demonstrators outside the UN-office, desperately tried to slow down Arbour´s car.  Finally, UN-staff intervened, Ebadi informed Arbour about the incident and she promised to raise it with the authorities.

Her own situation is difficult and she receives threaths every day.  She has spent part of the money from the Nobel Prize to set up offices in her Center for Human Rights Defenders, even though she has been warned by authorities that the office is illegal.  Her center does not accept any sort of financial aid from national or foreign sources.  Its activities are based on free work and membership fees only.

The opposition among the people grows stronger every day due to increasing powerty.  She has refused to take on any form of political leadership saying that her role is that of the human rights defender.

18.09.07

Shirin Ebadi med appell til MR-miljøet

Den tidligere fredsprisvinneren ber om moralsk støtte fra verdens MR-organisasjoner når iranske myndigheter nå truer med å arrestere de ansatte på hennes MR-senter dersom de fortsetter sitt arbeid.

I en melding som Norsk PEN mottok i dag, og som er sendt til en rekke organisasjoner over hele verden, ber Shirin Ebadi om moralsk støtte fra MR-miljøet.  I meldingen sier hun:

There is a very important matter I would like to discuss with you. I conduct my human rights activities through the Defender of Human Rights Center (DHRC). I am the president of this center and we have three important responsibilities:

a. We report the violations of human rights that take place in Iran.

b. We defend political prisoners pro bono — about 70% of the polit ical prisoners in Iran are clients of our center and we do not charge them for our services.

c. We support the families of these prisoners both financially — if they require financial aid — and spiritually.

This center is a member of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and has been registered there. It has also been awarded a human rights prize by the Human Rights National Commission in France.

This center is very well known and credible in Iran. Two days ago the government of Iran announced that this center is illegal and provided we continue our activities, they shall arrest us. Of course me and the other members of the center do not intend to shut down the center and we shall continue our activities. However, there is a high possibility that that they will arrest us. The government’s action in this regard is illegal.

Therefore, I kindly request that you broadcast this message by all means and gather spiritual support for our center. This center has been established and working for more than four years now. I believe this decision of the government has been triggered by my memoir being published. In any case, I am happy that my memoir has been published, for the truth must be told.»

I en støtteuttalelse tidligere denne måneden, sier Sarah Leah Whitson, direktør for Midtøsten og Nordafrika avdelingen av Human Rights Watch: «The attempt to silence Shirin Ebadi’s Center is a huge setback for protecting human rights in Iran. If Ebadi is threatened for defending human rights, then no one who works for human rights can feel safe from government prosecution.»

CDHR ble grunnlagt i Teheran for fire år siden av Ebadi og andre MR-advokater.  De søkte da om godkjenning fra iranske myndigheter, men, til tross for flere purringer, mottok de aldri noe svar. Iransk lov krever ikke at organisasjoner innhenter slik godkjenning, men det iranske innenriksdepartementet har nå pålagt alle nye organisasjoner å innhente godkjenning.