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Tehran Smears Nobel Peace Prize Winner Ebadi Ahead of Election Anniversary

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi
Iranian state television has attacked Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi in the run up to the anniversary of last year’s disputed presidential vote.

Analysts say the move against Ebadi is an attempt to discredit her, and a sign of concern on the part of Iran’s leaders over her vocal criticism of the postelection crackdown.

Women’s rights advocate Asieh Amini told German radio network Deutsche Welle that the report demonstrates that Ebadi’s human rights advocacy is having an impact.

In the report aired on June 10, State-controlled television accused Ebadi of collaborating with “the enemies” of the Islamic Republic and “deviant groups,” including religious activists and the communist Tudeh party. The report also said she had played a “major role” in the postelection events of last summer.

Ebadi, who had left Iran to attend a conference in Europe shortly before the vote, has been out of the country ever since. Following the vote she told RFE/RL that the Iranian authorities should hold a new election and allow monitoring by international observers.

She has called on the UN to send its special envoys on torture and arbitrary arrest to Iran and she has said that the International community should focus on the country’s troubling human rights record instead of its nuclear ambitions.

The state television report says that Ebadi holds a grudge against the Islamic Republic because she wasn’t allowed to work as a judge after the 1979 revolution.

The report includes an interview with Ebadi’s husband, Javad Tavasolian, who appears nervous and uncomfortable as he repeats some of the accusations leveled against Ebadi in recent years by Iranian authorities, including “carrying out orders from abroad.” He also says that based on his 34 years of marriage with Ebadi, he doesn’t believe that she could defend people’s rights. The report concludes with a quote from Ebadi’s husband in which he says he wants to “separate his path in life” from his wife.

The interview bears the signs of a forced confession, which are often used by Iranian authorities to discredit political activists and dissidents and to support the official charges against them.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran says Ebadi’s husband was arrested in 2009 and subjected to physical and psychological pressure. According to the group Tavasolian was videotaped while in detention and coerced to make defamatory statements about her.

Ebadi has stated on a number of occasions that her family has come under official pressure in Iran in an effort to intimidate her and make her stop her criticism of human rights violations in the Islamic Republic.

Ebadi’s sister was also jailed in Iran in late December and later released on bail.

A 22-year-old student in Tehran who watched the television show targeting Ebadi told RFE/RL that he was disgusted by the report, calling it a “dirty trick” by Iranian officials that will further discredit them.

In another development, a colleague of Ebadi at the Center of Human Rights Defenders, Narguess Mohammadi, was arrested at her home today.

The reason for her arrest is not clear. Two other colleagues of Ebadi, prominent human rights lawyers Abdol Fatah Soltani and Mohammad Ali Dadkhah, were arrested following last June’s disputed vote and held in solitary confinement for several months.

On June 10, Ebadi was given the title “honorary citizen of the city of Paris” at a ceremony in the French capital at which she officially launched a campaign for the release of prisoners of conscience in Iran.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.


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