Thursday, November 26, 2009

Seizing Peace

Alas, not in the way you might hope. Norway is reporting that the Iranian government has seized a Nobel Prize awarded to human rights activist Shirin Ebadi.
Norwegian authorities were told that Ebadi's medal was seized "within the last week or so" from a safe-deposit box in Iran along with personal effects including the diploma awarded with the medal, the Foreign Ministry said. Spokeswoman Ragnhild Imerslund said Norwegian authorities have been "in touch" with Ebadi since the incident.

Ebadi, a human rights lawyer, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts in promoting democracy. She has long faced harassment from Iranian authorities for her activities - including a raid on her office last year in which files were confiscated.

The seizure of the medal is an expression of the Iranian government's increasingly harsh approach to anyone it considers an opponent - particularly since massive street protests that erupted following the disputed June 12 presidential election and shook the government's legitimacy.

According to the Norwegian government, this is the first time that a Nobel has been seized by government forces. Another unceremonious first for Iran's autocratic regime!

Ebadi, for her part, is in an effective state of exile from the country, although her husband is still in Iran (where he has been arrested and beaten by government thugs). Both have seen their assets and bank accounts frozen as Ahmadinejad and his cronies continue to tighten their grip on dissent and independent civil society.

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