Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shirin Ebadi

The Nobel Laureate and I: A Response to 'Shirin Ebadi Prepares for the End'

Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi's belief that the regime's days in Tehran are numbered is based on optimism; but regrettably, the interview belies her habitual style of distorting reality to her advantage.  It was this unattractive trait that turned the pride I felt in being her interpreter in January 2006 to disappointment, disbelief, and displeasure.

It is curious that once again Ebadi, this 'human rights' lawyer, should get herself involved in Iran's nuclear program and opine that the 'leadership is not negotiating in good faith'.  It was her very assessment of Iranians and her source of information which dumbstruck me in 2006 when she stated that the Iranian people didn't support the nuclear program and the supporters we witnessed on television were the 'paid Basij'.   

Contrary to this misinformation, the uniting factor in Iran is the nuclear program.  A 2004 poll showed that 75-80% of the Iranians rallied behind the Islamic Republic of Iran in support of its nuclear program including the full fuel cycle.  A fact confirmed in a 2007 poll conducted by the U.S. Institute of Peace.  The latter elaborates that: "Even with the crackdown on liberties, free press, and the increasing oppression in the country, the poll found that 64% of those polled said that US legislation repealing regime change in Iran would not be incentive enough to give up the nuclear program and full fuel-cycle".

Ms. Ebadi contends that the United States should only deal with a government in Tehran that respects human rights.  It is true that there is human rights violations in Iran.  To deny it, would be unforgiveable.  And to justify it based on the fact that the United States commits, or causes to  be committed,  the most appalling human rights violations witnessed in modern history, is wrong.  However, it is worthy of mention that in spite of the dismal human rights record of the United States, all countries in the world 'talk' to it.  One can therefore conclude that power and not respect for human rights sets the agenda for 'talks'.  

What is most surprising is that this recipient of a Nobel prize, a lawyer, is totally ignorant of international treaties, although she can be forgiven for not knowing the American Constitution.   Ms. Ebadi recommends that the United States continue its blatant violation of the Algiers Accords -- a bilateral agreement concluded between Iran and the United States, and  use VOA and Radio Farda to reach Iranians inside Iran 'to convince them  that the sanctions are targeted at the regime and not the ordinary Iranians'.

If Ms. Ebadi has been 'harassed' by officials in Iran, its perhaps her total disregard for law.   Point I.1 of the Algiers Accord states: “The United States pledge that it is and from now will be the policy of the United States not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.”  Per Article VI of the Algiers Accords, the violated party, Iran, has the right to refer the matter to the Tribunal at Hague, the Netherlands, where the International Court of Justice will have jurisdiction.    

Further, the 1955 Treaty of Amity signed between the United States and Iran, which due to its 2/3 majority approval was signed into the constitution.  The linchpin of the Treaty is free trade between the two countries.  Neither party has called to dissolve the Treaty.  Yet, in spite of the Treaty being in full force, sanctions have been imposed on Iran and Ms. Ebadi is encouraging the United States not only to dishonor its constitution, but to violate the bilateral Algiers Accords. 

This promoter of human rights, who has taken it upon herself to speak on behalf of Iranians, states:  'Iranians will endure considerable hardship if they think the endgame is greater respect for human rights'.  Is she suggesting that Iranians, like Iraqis, be subjected to considerable hardship if they can have respect for human rights - a respect that has yet to be translated into reality on the ground after hundreds of thousands have died.    

It is a coincidence that this indistinguishable figure who was proud to be a judge during the Shah's era, a period of dictatorship when the more fortunate dissidents were subjected to SAVAK's torture techniques while others disappeared,  is now hailed as the champion of human rights endorsing meddling in Iran's affairs by the American propaganda machine.  Almost too much of a coincidence.  What made her stand out against all the other activists not only in Iran, but around the globe who worked so hard towards the  'liberties'  that the Western perspective could  recognize and relate to? 

It is curious that in interviewing Mr. Ebadi, Jeffrey Gedmin of Foreign Policy should mention Vaclav Havel.  A new wave of liberal thinking emerged which endorsed the idea of promoting 'democracy'  ("liberal Imperialism")  in places of interest, i.e. Iraq and Iran through an individual  "And even more important, one could point to the success of leaders like Kim Dae Jung, Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel....."  It was also believed that transition to 'democracy' required focusing on "political strategies" and introducing "indeterminancy" and "uncertainty" into the process of political change which in itself was ground for cautious optimism that democracy could catch on.

In 2006, when Ms. Ebadi was being praised for her "bravery" and asked how it was that she was not afraid to go to Iran, she responded: When I got my Nobel prize and went back to Iran, there were over one million people at the airport waiting for me.  They [the government] wouldn't dare touch me.".   One has to wonder why she would be afraid to come back with her one million supporters?  Or perhaps it is the hardship she is encouraging for the Iranians that keep her away from the land which will no doubt reject interference, including all those who solicit them. 

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