Nobel peace prize winner and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi is calling on Germany and Europe to increase their commitment to battling human rights violations in Iran.
During a visit to Deutsche Welle's headquarters in Bonn, Shirin Ebadi noted that for the last two years, the West has engaged with Iran exclusively on the issue of atomic conflict. "One wonders whether Europeans are concerned only with their own security instead of with that of Iranians," she said at a Deutsche Welle press conference (13.07.2009).
Call for political sanctions
"I am against economic sanctions and military interventions," declared Ebadi, explaining that both are introduced at the cost of the Iranian people. She added that this, in turn, creates new battle fronts and encourages people to establish solidarity with their government.
Instead, she affirmed, political sanctions must be imposed. "Diplomatic ties must not be severed, instead the embassies could be downgraded to consulates. This would not harm the Iranian people, but it would illustrate the government's isolation."
Shirin Ebadi did not mince her words at a press conference at Deutsche Welle
Ebadi underlined that the international media was of great importance to the Iranian protest movement, specifically praising Deutsche Welle. At the same time, Ebadi called on journalists to exert more pressure on governments and also give economic ties a closer scrutiny.
"Ask Siemens and Nokia why they have provided Iran with technologies that are used to control the internet and mobile communication, effectively suppressing the people in Iran."
Returning to Iran?
Ebadi is convinced that the number of victims during the most recent protests is much higher than officially reported. Many prisoners have been isolated and prevented from contacting their families or attorneys, according to Ebadi.
Shirin Ebadi and Deutsche Welle's director general Erik Bettermann
She also underlined that the government's response to the protests was in breach of the country's constitution and Islam, adding that this was why several leading clerics had criticized the government's illegal actions.
Ebadi revealed that her negotiations with high-level UN officials have prompted the UN to send an independent delegation to Tehran to throw light on the events following the disputed June presidential election. It is unclear whether Iranian authorities will allow the delegation into the country. And this also applies to Ebadi herself. But despite all dangers she is determined to return to Tehran to her husband, her home and her work.
Author: Matthias von Hein (nk)
Editor: Neil King