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Monday, 14 August 2006
Page: 24

Mr BAIRD (1:55 PM) —I rise to share my grave concern for Iranian lawyer and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Ms Shirin Ebadi. It has been widely reported in the press that the Iranian government is clamping down on human rights activists and only last month Ms Ebadi’s legal partner Abdolfattah Soltani was imprisoned for five years. Ms Ebadi has publicly raised fears that the government will move to arrest her, although she has committed to continuing her fight for human rights in Iran despite the government’s order that her human rights watch centre be shut down.

This is a sad indictment of Iranian democracy. The Iranian government has responded to greater international scrutiny of human rights and democracy within their borders by threatening prosecution for activists defending human rights. I am concerned for the safety of Ms Ebadi and other human rights workers in Iran. Ms Ebadi’s centre has provided free legal advice to hundreds of students, journalists and others facing prosecution for criticising government policies. The international community must bring all possible pressure to bear on Tehran to ensure that legitimate human rights workers are not unfairly targeted for carrying out their important work.