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Crackdown in Iran: Arrest of Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi’s Sister

Wednesday 30 December 2009, by siawi2

Increased Intimidation, Political Violence, and Clampdowns on Iranian Human Rights Activists

December 29, 2009

Source: Women’s Learning Partnership

Following increasing threats and harassment earlier in the year, Nobel laureate and women’s rights advocate Shirin Ebadi has been unable to return to Iran since the June 2009 presidential election. She has, however, remained vocal in her defense of human rights, and as a result, her 47-year old sister, Noushin—a professor of dentistry who is not engaged in any human rights work or political activity—was arrested in her home in Tehran by security officials on Monday, December 28. The previous week, Noushin Ebadi had been contacted by officials and ordered to tell her sister to stop her work.

This appalling attempt to silence an internationally-known activist by targeting an innocent family member comes in the midst of further escalation of violent crackdowns on protesters and opposition figures in Iran. Over a thousand people were reportedly arrested following protests during last Sunday’s holy day of Ashura, and at least ten killed. This political unrest has become a smokescreen for a more comprehensive clampdown on human rights activists, especially students and women, who have been systematically targeted, harassed, and arrested. Among other prominent women’s rights activists arrested recently is Mahboubeh Abbasgholizadeh, who was arrested along with rights activists Shiva Nazarahari and Kouhyar Goudarzi as they made their way to Qom to participate in the funeral ceremony of Ayatollah Montazeri on December 20. Mansoureh Shojaee, a women’s rights activist and researcher who was instrumental in founding the One Million Signatures campaign, was arrested following a search of her home early this morning, December 29.

Arrests of women’s rights activists during recent months suggest that any semblance of procedural transparency has deteriorated. As such, we are gravely concerned for the safety of all human rights activists and their families in this climate charged with intense violence and political intimidation.

For more information on recent arrests of activists, please visit Change for Equality, The Feminist School, Women’s Field, and International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

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Declaration by Dr. Shirin Ebadi

I hereby declare that my sister Dr. Noushin Ebadi who is a Medical lecturer at Azad University of Tehran was detained by four officers from the counter-intelligence agency of Islamic Republic of Iran.

She was arrested at 9 pm today (28/12/2009) at her home in Tehran. At present, we have no information of her whereabouts.

During the past two months, my sister had been contacted by the elements within the government and told in no uncertain terms to contact me and persuade me to cease my activities as a human rights advocate. It was strongly suggested that she should leave her apartment which is within the same block as my apartment in Tehran. She was told that her failure to cooperate with them will result in her arrest. I initially did not take this seriously, but I’m sad and upset to see that this was not an empty threat.

It is important to note that my sister is not politically active nor is she a member of any human rights organisation. Her only crime seems to be that she is my sister and her arrest is nothing less than a political blackmail and attempted pressure. This is another method employed by the authorities in Iran to stop my activities.

I hereby draw the attention of the Iranian judiciary to this unlawful and wrongful arrest of a member of my family for political gain by the government of Iran and I call for immediate release of my sister.

Iran is currently in turmoil and these unlawful and illegal actions will only have a negative effect. What is needed in Iran is peaceful dialogue and tolerance.

Shirin Ebadi

Please forward this message to your friends and colleagues. Thank you.

Women’s Learning Partnership, 4343 Montgomery Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814 | 301.654.2774 | wlp |