“More dangerous than a nuclear bomb”

Shirin Ebadi, right, won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work on Iranian women and children's rights

Shirin Ebadi, right, won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work on Iranian women and children's rights

Imagine a program that allowed you to create and customise your own human rights campaigner. Aside from being a guaranteed top-seller (particularly on the Wii, I imagine), you might be surprised at the results.

If you were able to hand-pick credentials for a human rights experts in, say, Iran, then it is more than likely that you would unknowingly create Shirin Ebadi.

Born in 1948, Ebadi became the first woman to preside over a legislative court in Iran in 1975, but was demoted four years’ later following the Iranian revolution. Using her newly found free time to write books and journal articles, she became a lecturer at her Alta Mata, the University of Tehran, where she campaigned heavily for the rights of women and children.

In 2003, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in which she was described as having “never heeded the threat of her own safety.”

Since then, she has been even busier with campaigning and awareness raising of Iran’s ever decreasing human rights performance.

She also established the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran, an organisation that has defended the legal cases of many Iranian free speech advocates and academics.

As far as well-informed and professional comment on human rights goes, she is probably among the most highly qualified.

Which is why, when she accuses Britain of ignoring the human rights’ situation in Iran, she should have note taken of her.

In an interview with The Times, she said that “the West cares more about its own security than human rights. I think they’re wrong…Undemocratic countries are more dangerous than a nuclear bomb.”

The reception to her interview by British officials is appalling. This is an extract from the article:

British officials dismissed her appeals as misguided. “The only other people who act like they want to close our embassy are the Iranian Government,” a Foreign Office source said.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that Britain had signalled its displeasure at the regime’s conduct by withholding its customary letter of congratulation. It said that “communication channels had to be kept open”.

She has risked so much to make these petitions to Western leaders. The response she has received is disgraceful.

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