In an interview with the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center, Shirin Ebadi, criticized the Iranian government’s refusal to issue permits for peaceful demonstrations and said that authorities from Iran’s Interior Ministry follow double standards. “If the Interior Ministry claims that all assemblies and demonstrations require a permit from the Ministry, then how is it that it is not considered illegal when groups gather in front of Karroubi’s home on many nights, to the point where their neighbors file complaints about the actions [of the demonstrators] which keep them from resting, but when students want to demonstrate, it is considered illegal?” Ebadi said.
“The reason the Interior Ministry is informed [about planned demonstrations] is that the Ministry and police, which operates under the oversight of the Interior Ministry, can perform their legal duties in protecting the demonstrators, but when the Interior Ministry announces that demonstration permits are not issued and the demonstrations are illegal, in fact the Ministry itself is acting completely against the law,” she added.
“This policy of double standards is definitely against the law. The government is obligated to safeguard the security of demonstrators and if something should happen to them, the regime is responsible. Unfortunately, during the 14 February demonstrations, two people were killed. It is interesting that government-affiliated media, such as Fars News Agency, announced a few hours after one of them, Sane Jaleh, was shot dead, that ‘the cruel hypocrites,’ meaning the Mujahedin Khalgh Organization, carried out this act of terror. Now the people’s question is, since you didn’t arrest anyone, and didn’t investigate the murderer, and could not establish the murderer’s ties to any organization, how did you figure out that the murderer was a member of the MEK? In order to make their lies appear as the truth, the government publishes a fabricated Basij membership card for him. The student’s classmates distributed his photographs with Ayatollah Montazeri, and announced that he had participated in all the anti-government demonstrations. His brother told the media tearfully that his brother had never been a member of the Basij and that he opposed the government and the government had killed him…A little later, an individual close to the government, who most unfortunately is the chief editor of a newspaper, too, announced brazenly on television that Sane Jaleh was an informant for his newspaper and had gone to Ayatollah Montazeri’s office on behalf of the newspaper, so that he could leak the news,” Ebadi told the Campaign.
“The government is not acting according to its duties. More importantly, we must remember that they did not allow Jaleh’s classmates to participate in his funeral ceremony and locked them up inside the university, while anonymous strangers became the pallbearers in his funeral. All of this indicates one thing–the 14 February murders were carried out by government forces. Now their futile attempts at desperately deflecting attention is to reduce their responsibility, but the truth shines like the sun,” Ebadi added.
“Unlike others, when I saw the play performed by members of parliament who were chanting ‘Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami must be executed,’ I was not surprised. For many years now, members of parliament have not been elected by the people; they are selected by the regime, as people are not allowed to vote for whomever they want. Remember, during all previous elections, the Guardian Council quickly disqualified anyone who had the smallest criticism to the government. Therefore, members of parliament are not elected by the people, but have been selected by the regime. It is only natural that those representing the regime would demand the execution of regime critics,” added the head of the Defenders of Human Rights Center.
Ebadi told the Campaign that the Iranian Judiciary has been losing its independence on a daily basis. “The Judiciary’s very last vestiges of independence and reputation have been lost with the arrival of Mr. Larijani. Today, the judges, especially those judges responsible for reviewing security crimes, have become tools in the hands of security interrogators. We have witnessed many times that security forces tell people during their interrogations that if they don’t cooperate and confess against themselves, they would be sentenced to, say, 10 years in prison, and [later] in court, the exact same sentence has been issued. An example of this is Ms. [Nasrin] Sotoudeh, who was told by her interrogators that if she didn’t cooperate, she would be kept in prison for more than 10 years, and the court sentenced her to 11 years. Or, in the case of Dr. [Ebrahim] Yazdi, who was told by his interrogators that he would not be allowed to leave the prison alive, and that if not in prison, he would be kept in a safe house until he dies. This happened, and he has been sent to a safe house on orders from the Judiciary. There are many examples of this and it shows that the Judiciary has lost its independence for a long time now,” Ebadi said.