Government Denunciations of Shirin Ebadi Encouraging Mob Violence
York, January 2, 2009) - The Iranian government should immediately end its
campaign of persecution against Dr. Shirin Ebadi, which has now escalated to mob
threats and violence against her home, the International Campaign for Human
Rights in Iran and Human Rights Watch said
today. Dr. Ebadi is the 2003 Nobel peace laureate and is a leading human rights
defender in Iran.
The human rights organizations expressed grave concerns for Ebadi's safety following a violent demonstration outside her home in Tehran on January 1, 2009.
"The mob violence occurring after the Iranian government unleashed its campaign of persecution against Shirin Ebadi shows that her life is in great danger," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. "Especially because the persecution of Ebadi seems to be related to her contacts with United Nations officials who were compiling a report on human rights in Iran, UN and concerned leaders everywhere should urgently make clear their support for this principled defender of human rights."
Ebadi reported to the media that 150 people demonstrated outside her building 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 mob dispersed after half an hour when police arrived.
In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Ebadi said: "regardless of all pressures, I am not leaving Iran and I am not ceasing my human rights activities. I will continue on the same path."
There is increasing evidence that the government's persecution of Ebadi has intensified because of her contact with UN human rights officials and their use of information provided by her center in a report by the UN secretary-general on the situation of human rights in Iran. The report was released in October 2008 and contributed to a critical UN General Assembly resolution on Iran.
Newspapers and websites close to the Iranian government have criticized Ebadi for months and have stepped up their calls for her prosecution because of the secretary-general's report. On January 1, the Students News Network, a news site close to Iran's Intelligence Ministry, published an article entitled "Ebadi's Safety Margins Removed."
The article called for Ebadi's prosecution because she provided information to UN officials:
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