Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Shirin Ebadi Underscores Dangers of Military Interference in Iran

Even in the face of Iranian government discrimination, 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate and Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi underscores the dangers of international punishment or military interference in Iran in an interview with the German paper Der Spiegel online. Dr. Ebadi states, “It's the people of Iran that have to gain their own freedom and human rights improvements. Military action or other punishments against Iran will make the situation for political reformists and human rights advocates in Iran a lot more difficult. I don't think that Iranian human rights advocates need help of that sort from the governments of the West. But I expect people in the West to support freedom-seekers in Iran.”

On August 3, 2006, the Iranian Interior Ministry announced that Dr. Ebadi’s organization, the Center for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), is an illegal organization and violators will be prosecuted.

The Iranian Interior Ministry claims that Center for the Defense of Human Rights has not obtained a proper permit. As Dr. Ebadi stated in her response to the threats, under the Iranian Constitution, non-governmental organizations operating peacefully and within the law are not required to obtain permission in Iran. Even so, Dr. Ebadi actually applied for a permit four years ago and never heard back from the government until now.

Iran has a responsibility to uphold its obligation to protect human rights defenders under the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which declares that individuals and associations have the right “to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” to “develop and discuss new rights, ideas and principles, and to advocate for their acceptance.” Iran is also a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. As such, Iran should reverse the threat to the Center for the Defense of Human Rights and other human rights defenders, allowing them to carry out their activities, free from intimidation and prosecution, according to Iranian and international law.

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