Norway bravely criticizes Iran for persecution of human rights defenders

July 19, 2011




On 13 July 2011 the State Secretary at the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gry Larsen, commented in very clear terms on the situation in Iran, saying inter alia: “Iran’s groundless persecution of people connected to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi’s Defenders of Human Rights Center give cause for serious concern.”

A number of Iranian lawyers have recently been given, or can expect to be given, severe prison sentences. Two of the founders of the Human Rights Centre set up by Shirin Ebadi, Mohammad Ali Dadkhah and Mohammad Seifzadeh, have been sentenced to nine and two years’ imprisonment respectively. Another prominent lawyer Abdolfattah Soltani is still waiting for his case to be tried more than two years after he was arrested, and Shirin Ebadi’s own lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment earlier this year.

“The legal proceedings against these lawyers seem to have focused solely on their work to promote and defend human rights in Iran. They are in violation of both national and international principles of the rule of law. For example, the defendants were denied proper legal assistance,” said Ms Larsen.

The Iranian authorities have systematically persecuted people connected to the Defenders of Human Rights Center and confiscated property and materials relating to their work over a period of time in an attempt to stop the centre’s activities.

“Norway urges Iran to fulfil its obligations under international human rights conventions. We particularly urge Iran to stop its campaign against the Defenders of Human Rights Center and to safeguard the rights of people who are themselves working diligently to promote the rule of law in the country,” said Ms Larsen.

Groundless prison sentences for human rights defenders in Iran.

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