Washington DC— Speaking before an audience of NIAC members this past Saturday, Dr. Shirin Ebadi encouraged international focus on the human rights situation in Iran and warned that war, or threats of an attack on Iran, would be devastating for the country’s indigenous human rights and democracy movement.
“Wars and military attacks in nondemocratic countries should be forgotten because dictators actually like to be attacked by foreigners so that, on the excuse of national security, they can put away their opposition.”
Before the event, which was hosted by NIAC in McLean, Virginia, Ebadi sat down for an interview with NIAC President Trita Parsi and Dr. Hazhir Rahmandad, a NIAC member and assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at Virginia Tech.
Ebadi said political sanctions focused on human rights violators are far more effective than economic sanctions. She commended U.S. and European Union efforts to implement human rights sanctions targeted against Iranian government officials complicit in the repression of Iranians. “These kind of sanctions are smart sanctions, meaning that it does not punish all of the people of one country, but only those who have committed the crimes.”
She called for human rights violators in Iran’s government to be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), but noted that the U.S. has refused to ratify the ICC convention. Endorsing the ICC, Ebadi said, is the most important action the U.S. can take to address human rights in places like Iran that lack an independent judicial system.
In discussing engagement, Ebadi argued that talks with Iran must not be limited to the nuclear issue, but must address human rights and focus on the interests of the civil society and those being repressed within Iran. She said that disconnecting Iran from the outside world only hurts Iran’s human rights and democracy movement.
“There should not be a wall built around Iran isolating it from the rest of the world.”
Ebadi emphasized that Iran’s isolation is perpetuated through the Iranian government’s control of access to civilian Internet. The United States, she said, should support freer access to these services in an effort to encourage greater openness. And, Ebadi asserted, by fostering greater connections with the outside world, the Green Movement will be more successful.
Ebadi added that the best solution for the Green Movement is to work to realize the guarantees in Iran’s constitution that the government refuses to observe, such as the rights of free association and to organize political parties.
“I am in support of human rights, I don’t want any blood to be spilled, therefore I think the only solution that is both possible and has the lowest chances of bloodshed is reform,” said Ebadi. But Iran’s government, she argued, has thus far not shown any flexibility or listened to the people, which only fuels calls for more dramatic steps.
Ebadi advised that those outside of Iran can help the Iranian people by constantly educating and providing information to those in the United States who are less aware about what is happening within Iran. She emphasized, “If you cannot eliminate injustice, at least talk about it.”
“History,” she maintained, “has proven that no undemocratic government will be there forever. It is only with time that we can tell.“
Learn more about Dr. Ebadi’s new book, The Golden Cage: Three Brothers, Three Choices, One Destiny