Iran: Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi’s rights group banned

This blurb appeared in the New York Times Aug. 8:

The authorities have banned a rights group founded in 2002 by a group of lawyers and led by Shirin Ebadi, the only Iranian to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The Interior Ministry said the group, the Center for Protecting Human Rights, had failed to obtain a valid operating permit. “Its activities are illegal and the violators of this decision will be prosecuted,’’ the ministry said. The group has defended dissidents and journalists and has repeatedly criticized Iran’s hard-line judiciary. Ms. Ebadi, who won the Nobel in 2003 and headed the Tehran City Court from 1975 until the revolution in 1979, after which women were banned from such posts, said her center needed no special permit under the Constitution. Last month, another of the center’s founders, Abdolfattah Soltani, was sentenced to five years in prison.

The State Department-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty makes note Aug. 10 of Amnesty International‘s protests of the move. But, as we have noted, Shirin Ebadi is no apologist for US imperialism, and she has decried its exploitation of the abysmal human rights situation in Iran.

The Times reviewed Ebadi’s new book Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and Hope on July 16. Such attention is always a double-edged sword. Certianly, Western readers deserve to know about Ebadi and her work. But the more she becomes the darling of the Manhattan salon and international NGO sets, the more her credibility in Iran is undermined and the more precarious her position becomes. To her credit, Ebadi seems to be aware of this contradiction.

See our last posts on the Iran and its women’s struggles in the Islamic Republic.