Iran Clamps Down on Human Rights Advocates

MEDEA BENJAMIN – Huffington Post – 23 Dec, 2008

In our recent visit to Iran, we saw among the young university women what an important role model Shirin Ebadi is to them. As a female law student told us, “Shirin is our hero. That’s why many of us decided to study law. We want to be like her and help the women of Iran gain equal status with men in areas such as marriage, divorce, custody of children, inheritance.”

Shirin Ebadi received worldwide recognition when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. The Iranian government has tried repeatedly to silence her, but to no avail. The latest government clampdown happened this weekend, when two human rights centers that she founded were illegally shut down without explanation or written justification. Both groups are highly respected in Iran and worldwide for their role in improving human rights conditions. The Center for Participation in Clearing Mine Areas helps victims of landmines in Iran, and Defenders of Human Rights Center, reports human rights violations in Iran, defends political prisoners, and supports families of those prisoners. Ebadi was also taken into police custody briefly Sunday following the raids.

The closure occurred just hours before a 60th anniversary of Human Rights Day celebration at the center, and is a sign of the increasing actions against women’s rights and human rights activist by the government. “The collective activities of the human rights activists in Iran have angered the Iranian authorities so much that they have illegally ordered the closing down of two NGOs,” Ebadi has stated in response to the incident. . .

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