Page last updated at 21:28 GMT, Friday, 19 June 2009 22:28 UK

Ebadi speaks out over Iran poll

By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Geneva

Shirin Ebadi, photo 19 June, 2009
Shirin Ebadi said the Iranian government's response was harsh

Iranian Nobel peace prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has criticised the "harsh" treatment of post-election protesters by the Iranian government.

Ms Ebadi, a prominent human rights lawyer, was speaking at a news conference in Geneva.

She also repeated a call for new elections to be held in Iran.

Ms Ebadi said the number of people on the streets of Tehran was not what she would have expected if the election had been run openly and fairly.

'Stay peaceful'

"My feeling is that more than a million people in Iran are not happy with the result of the elections," she said.

"They want the elections annulled and they want new elections to take place. They express their wishes in a very peaceful manner, but unfortunately the government's response has been harsh."

Ms Ebadi called for the unconditional release of all those arrested so far.

She also refused to back the call by the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for the protests to stop.

Instead, her message to the demonstrators was: Continue to express yourselves but stay peaceful - don't give any excuse to those who want to use violence against you .

At the same news conference, UN Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, called on the Iranian government to rein in Islamic militiamen accused of acts of violence against pro-reform protesters.

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