Page last updated at 13:13 GMT, Wednesday, 10 December 2003

Nobel winner blasts rights abuses

Shirin Ebadi holds the Nobel diploma at the Oslo ceremony
Ebadi had a tough message for the West

Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi has criticised states for infringing human rights "under the cloak of the war on terrorism".

In a speech after accepting her award, Ms Ebadi, 56, said the events of 11 September 2001 in the United States had been misused for this end.

She also said the fact she had won the prize would inspire masses of women striving to achieve their rights.

The Iranian lawyer was the first Muslim woman to be awarded the peace prize.

She won the $1.4m prize for her work for the rights of women and children in Iran, in a year when other names mentioned as being in contention included Pope John Paul II and former Czech President Vaclav Havel.

Double standards?

Ms Ebadi said it was worrying that human rights were being violated by the same Western democracies that had introduced the principles.

And she singled out the alleged breaches of the Geneva conventions at the Guantanamo base in Cuba where the US has been holding more than 600 mainly former Taleban suspects for more than two years.

President Khatami
Mr Khatami has played down the award

"Why is it that some in the past 35 years, dozens of UN resolutions concerning the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the state of Israel have not been implemented promptly?" she said.

"Yet, in the past 12 years, the state and people of Iraq, once on the recommendation of the Security Council, and the second time in spite of UN Security Council opposition, were subjected to attack, military assault, economic sanctions, and ultimately, military occupation?"

Iranian message

"The people of Iran, particularly in recent years, have shown that they deem participation in public affairs to be their right, and that they want to be masters of their own destiny," she said in her acceptance speech.

She has vowed to press the Iranian Government to put into practice the international human rights treaties it has signed but not implemented.

Ms Ebadi says she will step up her activities and those of her NGO, the Centre for the Defence of Human Rights.

One of the main activities of the centre is representing defendants in political cases.

She also expressed the hope that political prisoners in Iran would be freed as soon as possible.

Mrs Ebadi's award aroused huge controversy in Iran.

Right-wing papers denounced the prize as part of a foreign plot to pressure Tehran.

Reformist President Mohammad Khatami has described the award as political and not important.

Ms Ebadi was the first female judge in her country, but was forced to resign following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

video and audio news
The BBC's Jane Bennett-Powell
"She's been a persistent irritation to Iran's conservative rulers"

Iran Nobel winner gets hero's welcome
14 Oct 03 |  Middle East
Nobel win sparks Iran controversy
14 Oct 03 |  Middle East
Peace award divides Iran
11 Oct 03 |  Middle East
Nobel winner's plea to Iran
10 Oct 03 |  Middle East
Shirin Ebadi's peace prize citation
10 Oct 03 |  Middle East
Profile: Shirin Ebadi
27 Nov 09 |  Middle East

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific