Open Letter on Behalf of Shirin Ebadi, Now in Danger in Tehran

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Editor’s Note: Peace activists have called on the Iranian government to ensure the safety of Shirin Ebadi, the epicenter of human rights activism in Iran, and the lawyer for the seven Baha’i leaders soon to be on trial. The letter, with more than 900 signatories, points out several instances of attack in the last months on Shirin Ebadi’s work, both on part of the state security forces and incited mobs.

To:
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ayatollah Shahrudi, Head of the Judiciary
Mohammad Khazaee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Islamic Republic of Iran

We are writing to protest in the strongest terms the threats that have been mounted against Shirin Ebadi, co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center and the Organization for the Defense of Mine Victims. Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate, has spoken out vigorously and repeatedly for women’s rights and human rights for all in her own country. She has also been a vocal and effective advocate for peace and against military attacks on Iran in international forums.

Ebadi today is in considerable danger. On December 21, 2008, officials prevented a planned celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and forced the closure of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), which Ebadi helped found. The Center provides legal defense for victims of human rights abuses in Iran. The group had invited nearly 300 human rights defenders and supporters to the private celebration. A few hours before the start of the program, members of state security forces, and plainclothes agents entered the DHRC building. They filmed the premises, made an inventory, and forced the center’s members to leave before putting locks on all entrances.

On December 29 officials identifying themselves as tax inspectors arrived at Ebadi’s private law office in Tehran and removed documents and computers, despite her protests that the materials contained protected lawyer-client information.

Ebadi’s former secretary has been arrested, and on January 1, 2009 a mob of 150 people gathered outside her home, chanting slogans against her. They tore down the sign to her law office, which is in the same building, and marked the building with graffiti. The police, who have been quick to close down unauthorized peaceful demonstrations, did nothing to stop the vandalism.

In similar cases, Iranian authorities frequently have followed office raids and other harassment with arbitrary arrests and detention, often leading to prosecutions on dubious charges

As peace activists, we have a special concern for Shirin Ebadi. Ebadi has spoken out, as we have, against any U.S. military attack on Iran. In 2005, Ebadi wrote, “American policy toward the Middle East, and Iran in particular, is often couched in the language of promoting human rights. No one would deny the importance of that goal. But for human rights defenders in Iran, the possibility of a foreign military attack on their country represents an utter disaster for their cause.” (“The Human Rights Case Against Attacking Iran” by Shirin Ebadi and Hadi Ghaemi, The New York Times, Feb 8, 2005).

We oppose any military attack on Iran by the United States or any other nation. We reject too the hypocrisy of the U.S. government when it protests repression in Iran while turning a blind eye to or actively abetting comparable or worse repression in countries with which it is allied like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Israel in the Occupied Territories. And we condemn as well Washington’s double standard in criticizing Iranian repression while itself engaging in torture and undermining civil liberties at home. But that in no way deters us from protesting in the strongest terms the denial of basic democratic rights to the people of Iran. We protest because we believe in these rights, and also because we see social justice activists in Iran and all countries as our natural allies in building a peaceful, democratic world.

We call on you to cease and desist from the threats to Shirin Ebadi, to move immediately to prevent any further harassment, and to ensure Shirin Ebadi’s safety and security.

See Full List of Signatories | Persian Version

[Sourc: Campaign for Peace and Democracy – http://www.cpdweb.org/statements/1011/stmt.shtml]

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7 Responses

  1. Fariba

    March 27, 2009 11:57 pm

    Come on Mr Khamanei. Why do you mollahs hate us women? Are you scared of our period? You spill more blood in one month that all Iranian women do combined in one year. Do you think we are evil? Unlike the blood of innocent people you spill by your killings, ours creates life. By the way, did you know that after you mollahs die, there aren’t 72 virgins waiting for you on the other side? There is only one 72 year old grand mother waiting there to judge you. She is going to be your alpha and omega. You really don’t want to know what she did to Khomaini. To teach Khomaini humility, she sentenced him to 72 life terms as a female child in Saudi Arabia and toped it off for him to be wed at the age of 12. So unless you desire to be Khomaini’s sister and married off to a Wahhabi Imam, I suggest you repent and respect the human rights of all Iranians. Just imagine 72 life sentences as a wife of Saudi Wahhabi would do to your image.

    Reply
  2. Fariba

    March 28, 2009 12:00 am

    Come on Mr Khamanei. Why do you mollahs hate us women? Are you scared of our period? You spill more blood in one month that all Iranian women do combined in one year. Do you think we are evil? Unlike the blood of innocent people you spill by your killings, ours creates life.

    By the way, did you know that after you mollahs die, there aren’t 72 virgins waiting for you on the other side? There is only one 72 year old grand mother waiting there to judge you. She is going to be your alpha and omega. You really don’t want to know what she did to Khomaini. To teach Khomaini humility, she sentenced him to 72 life terms as a female child in Saudi Arabia and toped it off for him to be wed at the age of 12. So unless you desire to be Khomaini’s sister and married off to a Wahhabi Imam, I suggest you repent and respect the human rights of all Iranians. Just imagine 72 life sentences as a wife of Saudi Wahhabi would do to your image.

    Reply
  3. Ali

    March 28, 2009 12:34 am

    She caught Khomaini a break. For what these mullahs have done to Iranians, God will send them back as shotors (camels) to roam the Saudi desert and give rides to Saudis 72 times a week for eternity.

    Reply
  4. Mark Obenauer

    March 28, 2009 1:53 am

    I find the perception of Iranian’s very interesting because some of the same issues (ie feminism) are issues in the West. We have our own clerics within conservative Christianity who believe that women must submit to men and not work outside the home. I come from this background and I always had deep questions about woman joyfully submitting to their husbands and being sneered at if they find fulfillment in a profession outside the home . In Western medieval times, woman had the status of children. Western societies have come along way, but we have further to go.

    Reply
  5. Mark Obenauer

    March 28, 2009 2:29 am

    As far as Shirin Ebadi, the oppression of a human rights activist is worrying both in and outside Iran. Within Iran, the esteemed authorities are basically stating that there is no room for rights other than the rights they decree. Of course the authorities of any nation determine what rights exist, and in this particular case they are quite narrow in scope. Ms. Ebadi is a champion for the rights of those who fall outside the pale of these narrow parameters, and the authorities feel threatened by her rejection of their status quo in terms of what are human rights. Outside of Iran, particularly in the West, the perception of Iranians in general is becoming very biased and I fear Westerners are becoming more prejudiced towards Iranians. Westerners may perceive Iranians as ignorant people who want to know nothing other than what their Ayatollahs tell them and who at the instigations of these clerics vandalize property and threatened life and home of those within Iran who don’t adhere lockstep to the viewpoints of their leaders. I was interested to hear in reports that some of the people who vandalized the outside of Ms. Ebadi’s offices were from Lebanon. So this matter is not only an Iranian matter. I hope the treatment of Ms. Ebadi and other Iranian human rights activists is handled correctly by the Iranian government. If human rights activists are assassinated by the government or at the instigation of the government, I fear there will be more unrest and instability to follow.

    Reply
  6. Mike

    March 28, 2009 10:17 pm

    Its impossible for me to understand such backwardness and primitive modes of behaviour that is happening in Iran. Only when I look back at 15th Century Britain or earlier can I see such barbaric and satanic actions by the authorities and ignorant mobs.
    Gracious God! we are now in 2009 not 1609.
    Where is empathy, understanding and God fearing morals in this age of modernity?
    Enough is enough! I’m sure that there are enough enlightened people in the world to influence all peoples towards the life-giving principles in the wonderful Writings and Teachings of Baha’u’llah.

    Reply
  7. sb

    March 30, 2009 6:17 pm

    The Iranian government may try to stop her from practicing, but they can do nothing to hold back the world reknown of this brilliant, fearless woman. Shirin Ebadi’s stance on human rights is a rose among thorns; as Nobel Laureate, the IRI dare not cut her down.

    I wish Ms. Ebadi could have seen the diamonds in the eyes of my Baha’i friends when they heard she had offered to defend the seven Baha’i prisoners known as the Yaran. We continue to offer prayers to God for her protection and for her ultimate victory, which will be the victory of every Iranian, of every freedom lover, of every woman who has fought for a just cause.

    Reply

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