Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ebadi resists pressure from Tehran

2009/11/27

Published in “Der Spiegel” on November 27 2009
http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,663956,00.html#ref=rss

Bitter controversy about a high tribute: Tehran denies to have confiscated Shirin Ebadi’s Nobel Peace Prize. Ebadi accuses the regime of lying. Her medal was stolen, her bank account is blocked, she says. Ebadi was awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights activities.

London/Tehran – She fights for democracy and human rights in Iran, for which she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. However, a bitter controversy is taking place around the prize that was awarded to her in 2003. On Friday, Iran denied to have “purposefully” confiscated her medal, however, acknowledged that the government has blocked her bank account with the prize money, amounting to an equivalent of 870.000 Euro.

According to Mehr news agency, a spokesman of the Foreign Ministry in Tehran had declared on Friday that a confiscation had been carried out with Ebadi on order of the judiciary, as it is common in tax affairs in Iran. He did not specify what exactly was confiscated by the authorities.

Ebadi struck back at he government in Tehran. “They are not telling the truth”, she told the British broadcasting station BBC in London. “They have blocked my bank account and also stopped my pension payments.” The same happened to the bank account and the pension of her husband. In addition, her bank box with her Nobel Prize and the medal of the French Legion of Honor in it had been cleared, said 62 year old Ebadi.

“If the Islamic Republic is annoyed by publications of human rights reports, they rather ought to improve the human rights situation”, said Ebaid according to the Farsi website of Radio Farda. “The Iranian authorities by this behavior are trying to put me under pressure, but it won’t work.”

The lawyer Ebadi appealed to UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon to get a picture of the human rights abuses in Iran.”No Iranian judge dares to hear my complaints”, she added.

Struggle for democracy and human rights
On Thursday, Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere had said he was “shocked”. It was the first time that authorities of a country confiscated a Nobel Peace Prize. He summoned the Iranian ambassador in Oslo to protest against the actions and express his concern about the well-being of Ebadi and her relatives.

Ebadi had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle for democracy and human rights in Iran. The lawyer was detained several times, and even after she became a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, she had to face harrassments of the authorities who even went as far as to close her office.

Ebadi, who has been travelling abroad a lot in the past years, has not returned to her home country since the unrests following the disputed re-election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on 12. Juni. She faces the risk of being detained again for her strict opposition against Ahmadinejad when entering the country.

kgp/dpa/AFP

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