Iranian Nobel-winner summoned by judiciary

Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi has been summoned to answer questions by the country’s hard-line judiciary or else risk being arrested, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said on Thursday.

“I have received a summons to a revolutionary court,” the human rights activist and lawyer said.

“In the summons, it simply says that I must present myself to the court within three days to provide some explanations and that I will be arrested if I refuse,” she explained.

The petite 57-year-old was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize in October 2003 as recognition for her campaigning for increased legal rights for women and children in Iran.

Her work has seen her challenge Iran’s so-called “red lines”—often ill-defined boundaries of thought or speech that protect the 25-year-old clerical regime against overt dissent.

Since winning the prize, she has continued to be locked in simmering warfare with Iranian authorities—and especially the hard-line-run judiciary—notably because of her defence of the family of Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian-Iranian photographer murdered in custody in 2003.

During the trial of Kazemi’s alleged killer last year, Ebadi accused the judiciary of covering up for one of its own officials and putting on trial a scapegoat.

Ebadi’s team of lawyers, called the Human Rights Defenders Circle, has also taken up the defence of journalist Akbar Ganji, who was jailed in 2000 after alleging top regime officials were linked to a string of murders.

They have also defended prominent Iranian dissident Ebrahim Yazdi (73), who heads the banned Iran Freedom Movement and who has been charged with seeking to overthrow the Islamic regime.

Ebadi has also called for the freeing of all political prisoners—a category of detainee the judiciary says does not even exist.

She has called for a referendum on Iran’s political future, travelled to the United States and casts off her head scarf whenever abroad.

But Ebadi, who has also consistently asserted she intends to keep out of politics, asserted that “all my activities are legal”.

“I have no idea what the reasons are for this summons,” she said, adding she has not yet decided whether to respond to the summons.

“If I decide to answer the judiciary, I will wait until the last moment, that is on Sunday,” she said.—Sapa-AFP

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