Tuesday, February 19

Nobel laureate details state of Iran

Activist Shirin Ebadi speaks of discriminatory laws against women, need for advanced democracy

It’s not every day that a speaker at UCLA is met with as
much opposition as Shirin Ebadi was Monday night.

Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace laureate, came to UCLA to speak of
her new book, “Iran Awakening: A Memoir of Revolution and

She said in Iran, the life of a woman is worth half that of a
man, while the age of criminal responsibility is amazingly low.
These are just some of the examples of discriminatory laws Ebadi,
the first Iranian and first female Muslim to win the Nobel Peace
Prize, used to introduce the state of Iran.

Ebadi spoke mainly of the country’s discriminatory laws,
including those against women, as well as the demand for an
advanced democracy.

While most listeners applauded Ebadi, several protesters who
spoke in the middle of her speech and about 15 people from
different organizations protested outside the event.

When speaking of the discriminatory laws against women ““
such as one that says a man can divorce his wife at any time with
no justification while divorce for women is very difficult and
sometimes impossible ““ Ebadi said it was interesting these
laws were applied in a country where women are better educated than

Over 65 percent of university students in Iran are female, and
one long-time vice president is a woman, Ebadi said.

Though the feminist movement in Iran is very strong and some
laws have been amended in favor of women, there still remain many
human rights violations that need attention.

“(Iranian women) will not stop until they achieve full and
complete equality of rights,” Ebadi said.

Also, as a result of the limited laws of freedom of expression
in Iran, a number of journalists, writers and philosophers are
currently imprisoned. Ebadi said she will continue wishing the
release of all political prisoners in Iran.

Ebadi stressed that though she critiqued the government of Iran,
a military invasion of Iran was not the way to go about
establishing democracy and observance of human rights.

“The people of Iran love their country and they are not
going to permit it to become a second Iraq,” Ebadi said.

In regard to helping the Iranian people in their quest for more
freedom and democracy, Ebadi called upon everyone to do whatever
they can.

“If you’re a journalist and if you have access to a
press, write about the political prisoners in Iran and about the
violations of human rights,” Ebadi said. “If
you’re a doctor and you have access to medication or
pharmaceuticals, help in bringing medications to Iran.”

One audience member lashed out during Ebadi’s speech,
accusing her of being the regime’s spy and of not doing
enough to help the imprisoned human rights activists. He was
escorted out of the room by the police, along with a few other
protesters who spoke out during the event.

Donya Farmand, a fourth-year French student, said the protesters
were not doing anything to help by saying she has not done

“She’s taking steps by coming here to educate people
in L.A. As one person, what more can she do?” Farmand said.
“She’s asking for other people’s help.”

Niousha Nader, a fourth-year psychobiology student, said the
protesters were not helping to solve Iran’s problems.

“There’s no point in opposing her when she’s
helping the cause,” she said.

Ebadi responded to the protesters’ allegations, saying she
would do everything she could to release the prisoners.

“My desire is the release of all those who are in prison
due to political or ideological reasons,” Ebadi said.

When accused of making the situation in Iran sound better than
it is, Ebadi said she was doing her best to represent Iran as
accurately as possible.

“I requested that the situation in Iran be reflected
exactly as it is, not worse or better than it is, so that people
will know what exactly goes on in Iran and can help Iran in this
regard,” she said.

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