Human rights groups on Sunday blasted an Iranian police raid on Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi’s office in Tehran, calling it an “unlawful” act and an attempt to silence activists.
“The unlawful raid by Iranian security forces on the Tehran rights group run by Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi on December 21, 2008, raises concerns of a broader attempt to silence Iran’s human rights community,” the New York-based Human Rights Watch and the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said in a joint statement.
“The closure of DHRC [Human Rights Defenders Center] is not just an attack on Shirin Ebadi and her Iranian colleagues, but on the entire international human rights community of which she is an influential and important member,” Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth said.
“The Iranian authorities should allow the center to reopen and investigate why it was raided in the first place,” he said.
Ebadi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, was in the office during the raid.
Rights advocates said nearly 300 supporters of human rights had been invited to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the group’s office when the raid occurred.
“If Shirin Ebadi and DHRC cannot hold a simple event to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, then no Iranian citizen has any security to talk about or advocate for human rights,” said Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.
“This is a litmus test for the Iranian government’s tolerance of human rights defenders and its results show ‘zero tolerance,’” Ghaemi said in a statement.