Iran and Malaysia Join Forces to Silence Nobel Laureate
(20 October 2008) The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran together with the Asian NGOs Network on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI) strongly condemn the acts of Iranian and Malaysian governments preventing Dr. Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate, from delivering public lectures during her planned visit to Malaysia.
Dr. Ebadi was due to visit Malaysia and deliver a series of public lectures organized by the University of Malaya, the International Islamic University, and the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute in November 2008. On 10 September 2008, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a letter to the organizers, pressured them to cancel Dr. Ebadi’s public engagements. As a result, Dr. Ebadi has cancelled her visit to Malaysia. The letter from the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said:
“As stated by the Iranian government, Dr. Shirin Ebadi is a strong critic [of the government]… Her public speaking engagements in Malaysia would cause a disruption of the good relations between the governments of Malaysia and Iran, especially in the field of education. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs therefore strongly advises to withdraw the invitation to Dr. Ebadi.”
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the ANNI strongly condemn the joint efforts of the governments of Iran and Malaysia to prevent Dr. Ebadi from speaking about her human rights work to other human rights defenders in Malaysia. This act of the governments of Iran and Malaysia is especially inexcusable considering that this year is the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Under Article 6 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, human rights defenders have the right to impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran and the ANNI believe that the free exchange of ideas and interactions between regional actors, including prominent human rights defenders such as Dr. Ebadi, is vital to promoting and protecting human rights in Asia.
“The Iranian government uses all its might to muzzle Dr. Ebadi and her human rights advocacy inside Iran. It is extremely disturbing that now the Malaysian government is doing the same on behalf of the Iranian government,” the groups said.
The groups called on the Iranian and Malaysian governments to respect their obligations under international human rights treaties and promote and protect freedom of speech, rather than collaborating to deny it.
“It is a great disappointment that the Malaysian government would show such a disregard for fundamental rights and blatantly censor such an internationally renowned human rights advocate,” the groups said.
Dr. Ebadi is well-known for her work promoting children and women’s rights in Iran. She is the co-founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center. She was awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her tireless human rights advocacy.
The following are the members of the Asian NGOs on National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI):
ADVAR Organization (Alumnae of Islamic Associations of University Students) – Iran
Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) – Bangladesh
Asian Center for Human Rights (ACHR)
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Cambodian League for Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO)
Center for Human Rights and Development (CHRD) – Mongolia
Center for Organizing Research and Education (CORE)
Citizens’ Council for Human Rights Japan (CCHRJ) – Japan
Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS) – Indonesia
Defenders of Human Rights Center – Iran
Education and Research Association for Consumer Education (ERA Consumer)- Malaysia
Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHR) – Hong Kong
Human Rights Organisation of Kurdistan
Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (IMPARSIAL) – Indonesia
Indonesian NGO Coalition for International Human Rights Advocacy (HRWG)-Indonesia
Informal Service Sector Center (INSEC) – Nepal
Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM), Indonesia.
International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran
Japan Federation of Bar Associations (JFBA) – Japan
Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP) – Timor Leste
Korea House for International Solidarity (KHIS) – Korea.
Law and Society Trust (LST) – Sri Lanka
Lawyers’ League for Liberty (LIBERTAS) – Philippines.
Maldivian Detainees Network (MDN) – Maldives
People’s Watch – India
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) – Philippines
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) – Malaysia
Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) – Taiwan
Other NGOs endorsing this statement are:
Asia Pacific Forum on Women Law and Development (APWLD)
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) – India
International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID)
International Women’s Rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP)
Mr. Sushil Pyakurel
National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) – Pakistan
Professor Nohyun Kwak
Shan Women’s Action Network (SWAN) – Burma & Thailand
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) – Philippines
Tibetan UN Advocacy –Switzerland