Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi urged the international community Wednesday to throw its support behind a U.N. General Assembly resolution condemning the lack of human rights in her native Iran. Ebadi said she has invited the U.N. Secretary-General to visit Iran and see for himself the deteriorating state of freedoms there.
Shirin Ebadi outlined numerous human rights abuses happening in her country, including the execution of minors, discrimination against religious minorities and women, and the lack of free speech.
She warned that the situation has deteriorated significantly since the disputed presidential election last June that ultimately returned President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to office, but triggered a wave of political protests. Ebadi, heard here through a translator, says those arrested after the vote have been deprived of their legal rights. "Pursuant to the statement of the government itself, 3,000 people have been detained after the elections. Although I believe that the number is higher than that. Some of them have been placed on bail and have been released. But unfortunately, both in Tehran and in other cities, there are a number of people in prison," she said.
She added that some have died in prison after being tortured, such as Mohsen Ruholamini, the son of a senior commander in the Revolutionary Guards, and others, both men and women, have accused their captors of raping them in jail.
Ebadi, a human rights lawyer who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, told a New York audience that she has been living in effective exile since the June elections. She said the government has closed down her office and confiscated her apartment, as well as her bank account, in addition to harassing members of her family. "When the government of Iran treats a person like me who has won the Nobel Peace Prize in a manner like I've told you, how would they behave when it comes to a student? When it comes to an ordinary person?," she said.
She said she appealed to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting on Monday to come to Iran and see for himself the situation.
His office said he would like to go there but has no immediate plans to do so. In a recent report, Mr. Ban said he was "deeply troubled" by the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran.
Next week, the U.N. General Assembly will vote on a non-binding resolution criticizing Iran's serious and continuing human rights violations and calling on the Islamic Republic to improve its record.
The assembly has passed such a resolution every year since 1985. But despite its apparent lack of effect, human rights groups and activist Shirin Ebadi say it is important the international community continue to send Iran the message that such practices are unacceptable.
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