Title: Nobel laureate urges challenge to Ahmadinejad
Publication: Irish Times
Author: Mary Fitzgerald
September 23, 2009
IRANIAN NOBEL peace laureate Shirin Ebadi yesterday called on the international community to challenge Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on human rights violations committed during the unrest that followed his disputed re-election when he participates in this week’s opening session of the UN General Assembly.Ms Ebadi, a lawyer and human rights defender who became the first Iranian and the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, also strongly criticised UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon for his approach to the crisis precipitated by the June ballot, which opposition leaders believe was rigged.
Massive demonstrations against the result were met with violence from Iranian authorities. At least 20 people died and hundreds were detained during the unrest.
“It is vital that the UN takes some action before the situation exacerbates and becomes worse in Iran,” Ms Ebadi told The Irish Times during a visit to Dublin.
On several occasions since the election, Ms Ebadi has called on the UN chief to visit Iran in order to gather first-hand information before drawing up a UN report on Iran’s human rights record which is due in December.“Mr Ban Ki-moon has to date not gone to Iran . . . I am very surprised at that,” she said through an interpreter. “So my question to Mr Ban Ki-moon is this: how are you going to compile a report? Every time I have spoken to Mr Ban Ki-moon, he has said ‘I will look into it’ but he hasn’t done anything so far. Is Mr Ban Ki-moon waiting for Iran to become another Zimbabwe before he takes any action?”
Ms Ebadi has also called for the UN to appoint a special rapporteur to deal with the human rights situation in Iran. “I appeal to other countries to remind the UN this week of this request, and to ensure that such a rapporteur is designated,” she said yesterday.
Mr Ahmadinejad is due to address the UN General Assembly today. Large protests against his appearance are expected on the streets surrounding UN headquarters in New York.
During an impassioned address at Trinity College in Dublin yesterday evening, Ms Ebadi argued that the issue of human rights was being sidelined by western powers in their dealings with Iran.
“These countries seem to forget the human rights situation . . . and focus only on the nuclear issue,” she said to an audience that included many Iranians living in Ireland. “The world seems to have closed its eyes to what is happening in Iran . . . Do you only care for your own security, and not for the Iranian people? Whenever you negotiate with the Iranian government, please do not forget the issue of human rights and democracy. Please make it part of your dialogue.”
Ms Ebadi was in Dublin to launch the Irish section of Scholars at Risk, a new initiative between universities in Ireland and the global Scholars at Risk network which will provide support to threatened academics around the world, including arranging temporary placements in Ireland to allow them to safely continue their work.