Read: Shirin Ebadi


Shirin Ebadi, human rights defender against hardliners

Friday, October 10 , 2003 - © 2003 IranMania.com

TEHRAN, Oct 10 (AFP) - Shirin Ebadi, 56, is one of Iran's most prominent human rights defenders, whose campaigning on behalf of women, children and outspoken dissidents has earned her the wrath of the Islamic republic's religious hardliners.

Prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution, she made headlines when she became the country's first female judge. But she was stripped of her post when the new ruling clerics decided that women were unsuitable for such responsibilities.

Rather than retire to a life of obscurity, Ebadi continued to lecture in law at Tehran university and emerged as a vocal activist and lawyer dedicted to women's and children's rights.

She was a major driving force between the reform of Iran's family laws, notably on divorce and inheritance -- and also against a system where the "blood money" -- compensation for an injury -- for women is half that for a man.

Ebadi also emerged as something of an unofficial spokesperson for Iranian women, who demonstrated their political clout in 1997 by rallying around the mild-mannered reformist cleric Mohammad Khatami and electing him president.

But it was involvement in investigating one of Islamic Iran's most controversial cases -- the 1999 serial murders of writers, intellectuals and dissidents -- that put her on a collision course with Iran's hardliners.

She served as lawyer for Dariush and Parvaneh Foruhar, a couple who were among several dissidents who died in a spate of grisly murders that were eventually pinned on "rogue" agents from Iran's intelligence ministry.

In June2000 , she was arrested along with another reformist lawyer, for allegedly distributing a taped confession of a hardline vigilante militia member involved in anti-reformist violence. She was held in jail for three weeks, and then recieved a suspended prison sentence of five years and was barred from practising law in a closed-door trial.

Her work has won her accolades from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and in 2001 she was awarded the human rights Rafto prize. She is married and has two daughters, aged 20 and23.

The profile released by the Nobel Committee following Friday's announcement said, "Both in her research and as an activist, she is known for promoting peaceful, democratic solutions to serious problems in society. She takes an active part in the public debate and is well-known and admired by the general public in her country for her defence in court of victims of the conservative faction's attack on freedom of speech and political freedom.

"Ebadi represents Reformed Islam, and argues for a new interpretation of Islamic law which is in harmony with vital human rights such as democracy, equality before the law, religious freedom and freedom of speech.

"As for religious freedom, it should be noted that Ebadi also includes the rights of members of the Bahai community, which has had problems in Iran ever since its foundation.

"Ebadi is an activist for refugee rights, as well as those of women and children. She is the founder and leader of the Association for Support of Children's Rights in Iran. Ebadi has written a number of academic books and articles focused on human rights."

"With Islam as her starting point, Ebadi campaigns for peaceful solutions to social problems, and promotes new thinking on Islamic terms. She has displayed great personal courage as a lawyer defending individuals and groups who have fallen victim to a powerful political and legal system that is legitimized through an inhumane interpretation of Islam.

"Ebadi has shown her willingness and ability to cooperate with representatives of secular as well as religious views."

©Copyright 2003, IranMania.com

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Peace Prize Is Awarded To Iranian

By Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post Foreign Service

PARIS, Oct. 10 -- An Iranian lawyer and human rights activist who has battled her country's Islamic government for years on behalf of women, street children and dissidents won this year's Nobel Peace Prize Friday. The win made Shirin Ebadi the first Muslim woman to receive that honor.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which administers the prize, said Ebadi's selection was intended to promote human rights and democracy in Islamic countries and the world as a whole.

Analysts said the committee's decision, announced in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, appeared aimed at showing support for moderate Muslims after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which many people feel widened the chasm between Islam and Christianity and promoted religious intolerance.

In Paris, where she was attending a conference on women, the soft-spoken Ebadi said she was surprised, then happy, because "this gives me enough energy to help me continue my fight."

"All real Muslims should be really happy with this prize," said Ebadi, 56. She said that in her view there was no difference between Islam and human rights.

Speaking at a packed news conference in the courtyard of the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues, she appeared, as always when outside Iran, without a head scarf. That was an act of defiance, friends said, against the Islamic government she so frequently opposes, which believes that women must cover their heads as a show of piety.

"If I were living in a country where the rights of women were respected, I wouldn't be as happy as I am today," she said.

At the news conference, in which she spoke mostly in Farsi, she called for the release of all political prisoners held in Iranian jails. She also criticized U.S. military intervention in Muslim countries. Asked about Iraq (news - web sites) and Afghanistan (news - web sites), she said in English, "In Iraq and Afghanistan -- especially in Iraq -- people do not have water and electricity. And it is very important for people. How can we talk about human rights and freedom?"

In Tehran, the news of the first Iranian winner of the prestigious prize drew mixed official reaction, reflecting differences between the reformist government of President Mohammad Khatami (news - web sites) and the powerful clerics who oppose him.

Reporting from Tehran, the Reuters news agency quoted the editor of the conservative newspaper Resalat as saying, "This prize carries the message that Europe intends to put further pressure on human rights issues in Iran as a political move to achieve its particular objectives."

But Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi, a reformist, said he was "very happy that an Iranian, and above all a woman, has won the Nobel Peace Prize. It is a sign of the very active presence of Iranian women on the social and political scene." And in a remark apparently aimed at recent court rulings against reformists, Abtahi added, "The fact that a lawyer has won this prize gives us hope that the judicial system will change its methods."

Ebadi was born in a community 180 miles southwest of Tehran. She received a law degree from the University of Tehran in 1971, and under the rule of the pro-Western monarchy of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was appointed one of the country's first female judges, serving as president of the Tehran city court. But she was forced to resign after the Islamic revolution of 1979, which limited women's role in public life.

She remained in the legal world as an activist lawyer, representing a succession of people with human rights complaints. They included women subject to domestic abuse, street children and the families of writers and other intellectuals murdered in 1999 and 2000. She has also worked to identify people who orchestrated attacks on students protesting for democracy in 1999.

At the same time, she wrote books and journal articles, many of them on human rights, including a book about children's rights.

In 2000, she was sentenced to 15 months in prison and was prohibited from practicing law after being convicted of defaming the Iranian authorities. The sentence was reduced to a fine on appeal.

Throughout Ebadi's very public career, she maintained a private life, marrying and raising two daughters. She traveled widely, visiting Washington in 1996 to receive an award from Human Rights Watch. At present she teaches law at Tehran University.

In a statement, the Nobel committee said she is "a sound professional, a courageous person, and has never heeded the threats to her own safety." The committee said it hoped the prize would be "an inspiration for all those who struggle for human rights and democracy" in Iran, in the Muslim world, and in "all countries where the fight for human rights needs inspiration and support."

©Copyright 2003, Washington Post (DC, USA)

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Shirin Ebadi wins Nobel for peace

C R JAYACHANDRAN/TIMESOFINDIA.COM

TIMES NEWS NETWORK

NEW DELHI: Iran's first woman judge and a leading figure in the struggle for women's and children's rights in the country, Shirin Ebadi has won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2003.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award this Nobel Peace Prize to Ebadi for her efforts for democracy and human rights. She has focused especially on the struggle for the rights of women and children.

Ebadi won from a record field of 165 candidates including Pope John Paul and former Czech President Vaclav Havel.

This year's prize is worth $1.3 million.

"As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran, and far beyond its borders. She has stood up as a sound professional, a courageous person, and has never heeded the threats to her own safety," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said in its citation.

Her principal arena is the struggle for basic human rights, and no society deserves to be labelled civilized unless the rights of women and children are respected. In an era of violence, she has consistently supported non-violence. It is fundamental to her view that the supreme political power in a community must be built on democratic elections. She favours enlightenment and dialogue as the best path to changing attitudes and resolving conflict.

"Ebadi is a conscious Muslim. She sees no conflict between Islam and fundamental human rights. It is important to her that the dialogue between the different cultures and religions of the world should take as its point of departure their shared values," it said.

It is a pleasure for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to award the Peace Prize to a woman who is part of the Muslim world, and of whom that world can be proud - along with all who fight for human rights wherever they live.

During recent decades, democracy and human rights have advanced in various parts of the world. By its awards of the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has attempted to speed up this process.

"We hope that the people of Iran will feel joyous that for the first time in history one of their citizens has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and we hope the Prize will be an inspiration for all those who struggle for human rights and democracy in her country, in the Moslem world, and in all countries where the fight for human rights needs inspiration and support," the Nobel committee said.

The prizes are presented to the winners on December 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896 in the Swedish capital, Stockholm. The peace prize is presented in Oslo.

The Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi was born in 1947. She received a law degree from the University of Tehran. In the years 1975-79 she served as president of the city court of Tehran, one the first female judges in Iran. After the revolution in 1979 she was forced to resign. She now works as a lawyer and also teaches at the University of Tehran.

Both in her research and as an activist, she is known for promoting peaceful, democratic solutions to serious problems in society. She takes an active part in the public debate and is well-known and admired by the general public in her country for her defence in court of victims of the conservative faction's attack on freedom of speech and political freedom.

Ebadi represents Reformed Islam, and argues for a new interpretation of Islamic law which is in harmony with vital human rights such as democracy, equality before the law, religious freedom and freedom of speech. As for religious freedom, it should be noted that Ebadi also includes the rights of members of the bahai community, which has had problems in Iran ever since its foundation.

Ebadi is an activist for refugee rights, as well as those of women and children. She is the founder and leader of the Association for Support of Children's Rights in Iran. Ebadi has written a number of academic books and articles focused on human rights. Among her books translated into English are The Rights of the Child. A Study of Legal Aspects of Children's Rights in Iran (Tehran, 1994), published with support from UNICEF, and History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (New York, 2000).

In 1997 Ebadi had told Norwegian news agency NTB that Iran's existing system had to change.

"After the revolution many things went wrong. For example, we received a series of discriminatory laws. Now an increasing number of people want changes, and this is seen in the election of Mohammad Khatami as president. The time has come for reforms," Ebadi had said

As a lawyer, she has been involved in a number of controversial political cases. She was the attorney of the families of the writers and intellectuals who were victims of the serial murders in 1999-2000. She has worked actively - and successfully - to reveal the principals behind the attack on the students at Tehran University in 1999 where several students died. As a consequence, Ebadi has been imprisoned on numerous occasions.

With Islam as her starting point, Ebadi campaigns for peaceful solutions to social problems, and promotes new thinking on Islamic terms. She has displayed great personal courage as a lawyer defending individuals and groups who have fallen victim to a powerful political and legal system that is legitimized through an inhumane interpretation of Islam.

In 2001 Ebadi won the Rafto Prize for her long battle for human rights and democracy in Iran. She has also been recognised by Human Rights Watch for her efforts.

©Copyright 2003, The Times of India (India)

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Iranian rights activist wins Nobel Peace Prize

OSLO÷The Iranian human-rights activist and feminist lawyer, Shirin Ebadi, was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Friday, becoming the first Muslim woman to win the honor in the prize's 102-year history.

Ebadi, 56, was given the prize "for her efforts for democracy and human rights," particularly for women and children in her country, which has been under Islamic rule since its 1979 revolution, the Nobel Committee said.

In a reaction broadcast on Norwegian radio, Ebadi said her win was "very good for me, very good for human rights and very good for democracy in Iran."

She added that she was "very glad and proud" and hoped the fame the prize brought would help her work in her country.

The profile released by the Nobel Committee following Friday's announcement said, Ebadi represents "Reformed Islam, and argues for a new interpretation of Islamic law which is in harmony with vital human rights such as democracy, equality before the law, religious freedom and freedom of speech.

"As for religious freedom, it should be noted that Ebadi also includes the rights of members of the Bahai community, which has had problems in Iran ever since its foundation.

"With Islam as her starting point, Ebadi campaigns for peaceful solutions to social problems and promotes new thinking on Islamic terms. She has displayed great personal courage as a lawyer defending individuals and groups who have fallen victim to a powerful political and legal system that is legitimized through an inhumane interpretation of Islam.

"Ebadi has shown her willingness and ability to cooperate with representatives of secular as well as religious views."

In 1974 Ebadi became Iran's first woman judge, but lost that post in the revolution five years later when Islamic clerics took over and decreed that women could not preside over courts.

Rather than retire to a life of obscurity, Ebadi continued to lecture in law at Tehran University and emerged as a vocal activist and lawyer dedicated to women's and children's rights.

She was a major driving force between the reform of Iran's family laws, notably on divorce and inheritance÷and also against a system where the "blood money"÷compensation for an injury÷for women is half that for a man.

Ebadi also emerged as something of an unofficial spokesperson for Iranian women, who demonstrated their political clout in 1997 by rallying around the mild-mannered reformist cleric Mohammad Khatami and electing him president.

But it was involvement in investigating one of Islamic Iran's most controversial cases÷the 1999 serial murders of writers, intellectuals and dissidents÷that put her on a collision course with Iran's hardliners.

She served as lawyer for Dariush and Parvaneh Foruhar, a couple who were among several dissidents who died in a spate of grisly murders that were eventually pinned on "rogue" agents from Iran's intelligence ministry.

In June 2000, she was arrested along with another reformist lawyer, for allegedly distributing a taped confession of a hard-line vigilante militia member involved in antireformist violence.

"My problem is not with Islam, it's with the culture of patriarchy," Ebadi told Britain's Guardian newspaper in June. "Practices such as stoning have no foundation in the Koran."

Ebadi spent time in jail for attending a 2001 conference on Iranian form in Berlin. She has maintained a high profile in her feminist struggle, also by writing many books and articles.

"Any person who pursues human rights in Iran must live with fear from birth to death, but I have learned to overcome my fear," she told the Christian Science Monitor newspaper in 1999.

Her work has won her accolades from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and in 2001 she was awarded the human rights Rafto prize. She is married and has two daughters, aged 20 and 23.

Ebadi was selected from a field of 165 candidates for the prize, among them Pope John Paul II and former Czech president Vaclav Havel.
--Agence France-Presse

©Copyright 2003, Agence France-Presse (France)

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The Manila Times (Philippines): http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2003/oct/11/top_stories/20031011top8.html


THE NORWEGIAN NOBEL COMMITTEE

Biography

SHIRIN EBADI

The Iranian lawyer and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi was born in 1947. She received a law degree from the University of Tehran. In the years 1975-79 she served as president of the city court of Tehran, one the first female judges in Iran. After the revolution in 1979 she was forced to resign. She now works as a lawyer and also teaches at the University of Tehran.

Both in her research and as an activist, she is known for promoting peaceful, democratic solutions to serious problems in society. She takes an active part in the public debate and is well-known and admired by the general public in her country for her defence in court of victims of the conservative faction's attack on freedom of speech and political freedom.

Ebadi represents Reformed Islam, and argues for a new interpretation of Islamic law which is in harmony with vital human rights such as democracy, equality before the law, religious freedom and freedom of speech. As for religious freedom, it should be noted that Ebadi also includes the rights of members of the bahai community, which has had problems in Iran ever since its foundation.

Ebadi is an activist for refugee rights, as well as those of women and children. She is the founder and leader of the Association for Support of Children's Rights in Iran. Ebadi has written a number of academic books and articles focused on human rights. Among her books translated into English are The Rights of the Child. A Study of Legal Aspects of Children's Rights in Iran (Tehran, 1994), published with support from UNICEF, and History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (New York, 2000).

As a lawyer, she has been involved in a number of controversial political cases. She was the attorney of the families of the writers and intellectuals who were victims of the serial murders in 1999-2000. She has worked actively - and successfully - to reveal the principals behind the attack on the students at Tehran University in 1999 where several students died. As a consequence, Ebadi has been imprisoned on numerous occasions.

With Islam as her starting point, Ebadi campaigns for peaceful solutions to social problems, and promotes new thinking on Islamic terms. She has displayed great personal courage as a lawyer defending individuals and groups who have fallen victim to a powerful political and legal system that is legitimized through an inhumane interpretation of Islam. Ebadi has shown her willingness and ability to cooperate with representatives of secular as well as religious views.

Oslo, 10 October 2003

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