Posted by CODEPINK Staff
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT
Women's peace group creates petition to Iranian president
Calls for safe reopening of Iranian human rights centers, commitment to human rights work
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After learning of the shutdown of two renowned Iranian human rights organizations Sunday, CODEPINK Women for Peace have created a letter of petition to Iranian President Ahmadinejad calling for him to allow women's rights and human rights activists to continue their work in Iran safely and freely. It also calls for the re-opening of the two organizations, the Center for Participation in Clearing Mine Areas and Defenders of Human Rights Center. (View and sign the online petition here).
CODEPINK will deliver the petition to the U.S. Iranian ambassador in D.C. this week. (Watch CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin describe the group's response to the shutdown Monday here on GRITtv with Laura Flanders.)
The centers, founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, were shut down with no explanation or written justification illegally just hours before a 60th anniversary of Human Rights Day celebration there. In August 2006, according to a CNN interview Monday, Ebadi said the Iranian government informed her that the agency is "illegal" and vowed to arrest those who continued to work there.
"Shirin Ebadi and her fellow activists inspire us all with their courage and strength in the face of a kind of suppression that many of us will never know, and we stand in solidarity with them and support their work for human rights and a more democratic Iran," said Jodie Evans, co-founder of CODEPINK. "This illegal raid on Shirin's offices is only the most recent attempt by the Iranian government to suppress or erase the face of human-rights activism in Iran."
Ebadi was briefly taken into police custody following raids of the centers, which are highly respected in Iran and worldwide for their role in improving human rights conditions. The Center for Participation in Clearing Mine Areas helps victims of landmines in Iran, and Defenders of Human Rights Center, reports human rights violations in Iran, defends political prisoners, and supports families of those prisoners. If Iran truly champions human rights, the centers must be allowed to remain safely open.
A petition, CODEPINK believes, is the best way to support Ebadi without provoking a reaction from the government that would endanger her or place her under more intense scrutiny.
"We must be conscious of and realistic about how our actions in support of her affect her safety, her ability to do her work, and her life," Evans said. "But we cannot do so in any way that provokes a reaction from the government which would endanger them more or place them under increased scrutiny."