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Please sign the open letter below from American peace activists in defense of Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate and defender of women’s rights and human rights for all. Your support can make a difference.
We believe that peace and democratic rights are deeply intertwined, and we defend freedom of expression whether or not we agree with the views being expressed. As peace activists, however, we are particularly concerned about the persecution of Shirin Ebadi, who has on many occasions repeated her opposition to the use of or threat to use U.S. military force against Iran. For example, on February 4, 2009 Ebadi was interviewed by Amy Goodman on her Democracy Now! television program. Goodman asked, "If the United States were to attack Iran, and when you look at the repression that you and others have suffered, would that help the democratic movement in Iran?" Ebadi replied firmly, [translated] "A military attack on Iran or even a threat of a military attack on Iran will deteriorate the situation of human rights and women’s rights, because it gives an excuse to the government to repress them more and more often."
If Shirin Ebadi has no security inside Iran, then all peaceful civil society activists are at great risk. Indeed, the recent attacks on Ebadi take place against a background of stepped-up government repression. Trade union leaders, including Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Maddadi, are currently in prison; two women labor activists, Sussan Razani and Shiva Kheirabadi, were flogged on February 18, 2009 because of their participation in a May Day celebration. Women’s rights defenders, including those involved in the "One Million Signatures Campaign" have been unfairly prosecuted and sentenced. Privacy and personal dignity are under siege. People who defy patriarchal codes prescribing how men and women should behave, and people who are suspected of homosexual conduct, have been routinely victimized, often violently. Students, including most recently students from Amir Kabir University in Tehran, have been persecuted and brutally attacked. Mothers for Peace protesting the war in Gaza were attacked by plain clothes security agents on January 11 of this year.
These developments strengthen warmongering voices on both sides and thus threaten to set back the peace movement opposing military action against Iran.
Initial signers include Ervand Abrahamian, Janet Afary, Michael Albert, Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Ariel Dorfman, Martin Duberman, Carolyn Eisenberg, Daniel Ellsberg, John Feffer, Arun Gupta, Michael Hirsch, Adam Hochschild, Doug Ireland, Kathy Kelly, Assaf Kfoury, Naomi Klein, Jesse Lemisch, Kevin Martin, Scott McLemee, David McReynolds, Charlotte Phillips MD, Katha Pollitt, Danny Postel, Matthew Rothschild, Stephen Shalom, Alice Slater, David Swanson, Chris Toensing and Cornel West. (a more complete list of initial signers is at the end of the letter.)
If you would like to add your name or make a tax-deductible donation to publicize the following statement, please go to our website www.cpdweb.org — if for any reason you have difficulty at the website, just send us an email at [email protected] And please circulate the statement to your colleagues and friends.
Joanne Landy, Thomas Harrison, Stephen Shalom, Jesse Lemisch
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
HERE IS THE LETTER:
IRANIAN HUMAN RIGHTS LEADER SHIRIN EBADI IN DANGER
Peace Activists Call on Teheran to Ensure Her Safety
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Ayatollah Shahrudi, Head of the Judiciary
Mohammad Khazaee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Islamic Republic of Iran
We are writing to protest in the strongest terms the threats that have been mounted against Shirin Ebadi, co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center and the Organization for the Defense of Mine Victims. Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate, has spoken out vigorously and repeatedly for women’s rights and human rights for all in her own country. She has also been a vocal and effective advocate for peace and against military attacks on Iran in international forums.
Ebadi today is in considerable danger. On December 21, 2008, 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. The group had invited nearly 300 human rights defenders and supporters to the private celebration. A few hours before the start of the program, members of state security forces, and plainclothes agents entered the DHRC building. They filmed the premises, made an inventory, and forced the center’s members to leave before putting locks on all entrances.
On December 29 officials identifying themselves as tax inspectors arrived at Ebadi’s private law office in Tehran and removed documents and computers, despite her protests that the materials contained protected lawyer-client information.
Ebadi’s former secretary has been arrested, and on January 1, 2009 a mob of 150 people gathered outside her home, chanting slogans against her. They tore down the sign to her law office, which is in the same building, and marked the building with graffiti. The police, who have been quick to close down unauthorized peaceful demonstrations, did nothing to stop the vandalism.
In similar cases, Iranian authorities frequently have followed office raids and other harassment with arbitrary arrests and detention, often leading to prosecutions on dubious charges
As peace activists, we have a special concern for Shirin Ebadi. Ebadi has spoken out, as we have, against any U.S. military attack on Iran. In 2005, Ebadi wrote, "American policy toward the Middle East, and Iran in particular, is often couched in the language of promoting human rights. No one would deny the importance of that goal. But for human rights defenders in Iran, the possibility of a foreign military attack on their country represents an utter disaster for their cause." ("The Human Rights Case Against Attacking Iran" by Shirin Ebadi and Hadi Ghaemi, The New York Times, Feb 8, 2005).
We oppose any military attack on Iran by the United States or any other nation. We reject too the hypocrisy of the U.S. government when it protests repression in Iran while turning a blind eye to or actively abetting comparable or worse repression in countries with which it is allied like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, or Israel in the Occupied Territories. And we condemn as well Washington’s double standard in criticizing Iranian repression while itself engaging in torture and undermining civil liberties at home. But that in no way deters us from protesting in the strongest terms the denial of basic democratic rights to the people of Iran. We protest because we believe in these rights, and also because we see social justice activists in Iran and all countries as our natural allies in building a peaceful, democratic world.
We call on you to cease and desist from the threats to Shirin Ebadi, to move immediately to prevent any further harassment, and to ensure Shirin Ebadi’s safety and security.
Ervand Abrahamian, Janet Afary, Michael Albert, Kevin B. Anderson, Bettina Aptheker, David Barsamian, Rosalyn Baxandall, Medea Benjamin, Michael Bérubé, Norman Birnbaum, Eileen Boris, Roane Carey, Joshua Cohen, Noam Chomsky, Gail Daneker, Manuela Dobos, Ariel Dorfman, Martin Duberman, Carolyn Eisenberg, Jethro Eisenstein, Zillah Eisenstein, Daniel Ellsberg, Jodie Evans, Gertrude Ezorsky, Samuel Farber, John Feffer, Barry Finger, Joseph Gerson, Jill Godmilow, Arun Gupta, Thomas Harrison, Nader Hashemi, Michael Hirsch, Adam Hochschild, Nancy Holmstrom, Doug Ireland, Melissa Jameson, Jan Kavan, Nikki Keddie, Leslie Kielson, Ian Keith, Kathy Kelly, Assaf Kfoury, Naomi Klein, Dan La Botz, Joanne Landy, Jesse Lemisch, Sue Leonard, Mohammed Mamdani, Betty Mandell, Marvin Mandell, Kevin Martin, Scott McLemee, David McReynolds, Ali Moazzami, Claire G. Moses, Molly Nolan, David Oakford, Bertell Ollman, Christopher Phelps, Charlotte Phillips MD, Katha Pollitt, Danny Postel, Dennis Redmond, Sonia Jaffe Robbins, Matthew Rothschild, Jason Schulman, Stephen Shalom, Adam Shatz, Alice Slater, Stephen Soldz, Stephen Steinberg, David Swanson, Chris Toensing, David Vine, Lois Weiner, Naomi Weisstein, Reginald Wilson, Kent Worcester, Cornel West, and Stephen Zunes
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Please go to the CPD website at www.cpdweb.org to add your name, donate, or see the evolving full list of signers.
THE CAMPAIGN FOR PEACE AND DEMOCRACY (CPD) advocates a new, progressive and non-militaristic U.S. foreign policy — one that encourages democratization, justice and social change.
Campaign for Peace and Democracy
2790 Broadway, #12, NY, NY 10025