Human rights groups are calling on Iran’s government to immediately reverse its decision to outlaw the Center for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), an organization co-founded by 2003 Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), the Ministry of the Interior issued a statement on August 3 defining CDHR as an illegal organization, saying that the group had never obtained the proper permit. The Ministry stated that “violators will be prosecuted accordingly,” according to Amnesty International, which has also condemned the Iranian government’s action.
According to HRW, Ebadi issued a statement responding to the announcement, saying, “Under Iran’s constitution, nongovernmental organizations that obey the law and do not disrupt public order do not need a permit.” Even so, CDHR applied for a permit when the group was founded in 2002, but never heard back from the government despite repeated attempts, HRW reports.
“The attempt to silence Shirin Ebadi’s Center is a huge setback for protecting human rights in Iran,” said Sarah Leah Whitson of HRW. Ebadi is one of only seven living women Nobel Peace Laureates, and recently toured the United States for the release of her memoir. The Feminist Majority Foundation honored her and three of the other women Nobel Peace Laureates (Jody Williams of the United States, Betty Williams of Northern Ireland, and Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala) at a ceremony in April for their work for women’s rights and peace.