Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Shirin Ebadi: 'Don't Attack Iran'

Robert Dreyfuss has a new article in The Nation concerning an interview he conducted with Shirin Ebadi on April 28.

In regards to ongoing death threats to her person, Dreyfuss writes, "Ebadi is not intimidated, and she continues to represent dissidents and others caught up in the labyrinthine Iranian court system. But she warns that threats and bellicose rhetoric from American leaders and politicians is not helping matters." According to Ebadi, "The most important thing is not to militarily attack Iran, or to threaten to attack Iran militarily. Even the language of some of the candidates in the United States threatens Iran."

Ebadi also addressed the regime change slush fund. "When the United States says that it has allocated $70 million for democracy in Iran, whoever speaks about democracy in Iran will be accused of having accepted part of that money, and of being on the US side," she says. "It gives Iran an excuse for what it does." According to Dreyfuss, she said that all credible Iranian activists have refused to accept American funding, and most of the money has been funneled into radio broadcasts and other US propaganda.

In regards to sanctions, Ebadi told Dreyfuss, "Sanctions damage the interests of the people, and they're not going to topple the government of Iran, because the government has a lot of income from the price of oil because the price is so high." According to Dreyfuss, "the only sort of sanctions she is willing to support are direct, political sanctions that target Iran's leaders, from those involved in the Iranian nuclear program to the country's highest officials. Such sanctions, she suggests, could restrict these officials' travel abroad and could order the seizure of privately held assets. In addition, Ebadi believes, the world's countries could collectively shun the Iranian state."

Ebadi says, "What I mean is that all the countries of the world should reduce or lower the level of their political relations with Iran, so that they convince Iran to improve the situation of human rights. This was you can isolate the government of Iran without really damaging the people."

Of course, she also believes political sanctions should only be used as a last resort. She believes the best course is dialogue. Ebadi says, "Dialogue has to take place at three levels: at the level of people and civil society, among members of parliament of both countries, and by heads of government of both countries. And negotiations have to be direct and public."

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