Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Iran: End Persecution of Nobel Laureate

The Iranian government should end immediately its escalating persecution of Dr. Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel peace laureate and a leading human rights defender, Human Rights Watch and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said today.

"We are extremely worried for Shirin Ebadi's safety and her ability to continue her important human rights work," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

Ebadi reported that officials identifying themselves as tax inspectors arrived at her private law office in Tehran at approximately 5:30 p.m. on December 29, 2008, and removed documents and computers, despite her protests that the materials contained protected lawyer-client information

The raid was the second in 10 days targeting Ebadi and her colleagues. Human Rights Watch and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran expressed serious concern that the continuing attacks against Ebadi not only endanger her, but also put all Iranian civil society activists in peril.

"If Ebadi is not safe from official harassment, no Iranian activist can feel safe from persecution and dubious prosecution resulting from the government's distaste for peaceful activism," said Hadi Ghaemi, coordinator of the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
On December 21, officials prevented a planned celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and forced the closure of the Defenders of Human Rights Center (DHRC), which Ebadi helped found ( ). The center provides legal defense for victims of human rights abuses in Iran.

Narges Mohammadi, the spokeswoman for the Human Rights Center, said that after the attack on its office on December 21, government agents also went to Ebadi's private office and tried to remove documents under the guise of tax inspection. After Ebadi explained that she provides legal defense work pro-bono and that she earns no income from it, the agents accepted her explanation and left.

The confiscation of materials from Ebadi's private legal practice is the latest in a series of attacks against her, presumably in response to her human rights activism. In August, the official IRNA news agency alleged that her daughter had converted to the Baha'i faith, a serious accusation in a country where apostasy may be punished with death. Since winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Ebadi has been the target of many death threats from little-known groups accusing her of supporting Baha'ism.

The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and Human Rights Watch called upon the Iranian authorities to restore intact the confiscated documents and computers and to cease any further harassment of Ebadi and other human rights defenders.

The groups urged concerned governments and inter-governmental bodies, as well the UN human rights mechanisms, to register strong protests publicly as well as privately with the Iranian government over its persecution of Ebadi and other human rights defenders.

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AI: Enforced closure of human rights centre an ominous development

23 December 2008
AI Index No: MDE 13/180/2008

The forcible closure of the Tehran-based Centre for Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) by the Iranian authorities on 21 December is an extremely ominous development threatening the country’s entire human rights movement. Amnesty International is calling for the decision to be reversed without delay.

The CHRD was forcibly closed down by dozens of police and plain-clothes security officials who went to its offices shortly before the Centre was to hold an event commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). According to Narges Mohammadi, spokesperson for the CHRD, security officials failed to show any official order justifying their action and one told her that if she were not a woman, he would drag her by the legs and throw her into the street.

The CHRD was co-founded in 2002 by Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s best known human rights defender who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003. She was present at the time of the Centre’s forcible closure yesterday. The Centre has sought legal registration since its formation six years ago but this has been continuously denied by the Iranian authorities, leaving Dr Ebadi and her colleagues to operate in a form of legal limbo, and under constant threat. She has previously received death threats.

It is unclear why the Iranian security authorities decided to act against the Centre now. They appear to have wished to prevent a celebration of the UDHR, the founding document of modern human rights law, and also to send a powerful – and chilling – warning to Iran’s growing movement of human rights activists and defenders by targeting the organization headed by the most internationally renowned leader of the movement.

The CHRD has three stated roles, reporting violations of human rights in Iran; providing pro-bono legal representation to political prisoners; and support to the families of political prisoners. Its members have pursued high profile cases of impunity, and defended high profile victims of human rights violations. Some – such as lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani – have been detained in the past for no more than carrying out his duty as a lawyer.

Amnesty International calls for the CHRD to be allowed to resume its activities without delay and to be allowed legal registration. The Iranian government should abide by its obligations under international law to promote and protect human rights and should support, not attack and undermine, the work of human rights defenders.

Public Document

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Monday, December 29, 2008


Condemn the Closure of Iranian Human Rights Center

December 28, 2008

United Republicans of Iran

Condemn the shutdown of the renowned Iranian Human Rights center and demand an end to the suspension of its activities.

On December 21, 2008, just before a ceremony to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the police and the security forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran showed up at the center and assaulted the members of the center and sealed its office. The invitees included 200 –300 acclaimed Iranian individuals who were forced to leave the place upon the coerced closure of the center.

The security forces refused to present any official paper from the court ordering the closure of the center and did not offer any reasons for their actions. In August of 2006, commission of 10th article of Iran’s parliament pertaining to the activities of political parties and associations had deemed the Iranian Human Rights center illegal, but no one in the Islamic Republic establishment had called for its closure.

Closure of the center founded by the noble laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi and backed by distinguished Iranians is yet another sign of escalation of violations of human rights in Iran. The Human Rights Center in Iran has pursued defending the rights of political and ideological detainees. The formation of the Peace committee in the wake of the dangers of international war against Iran, as well as organizing a panel to oversee a free and fair parliamentary election in Iran has turned the center into a national organization. Thus it has a special place in our society. Its shutdown is a blatant gesture by the ruling political system in Iran to cross the boundaries of violations of basic human rights and freedom.

This action of the Islamic Republic is the most inappropriate response to the recent UN General Assembly‘s deep concern over serious human rights violations in Iran. The proper acknowledgement of the demands of the international community from Islamic Republic in this matter is a sincere genuflection to the rights of the citizens.

The United Republicans of Iran warns against the consequences of such actions. Our organization together with all the peace and freedom seeking communities declares that we will use all of our resources to reopen the center. We may also consider placing a complaint to international institutions that are involved in such issues. The United Republicans of Iran requests cooperation of all Iranians in order to accomplish this task.

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