This is a live-blogging report on the lecture with Nobel Laureate, Dr. Shirin Ebadi, in Vancouver on April 23, 2010. To read this in chronological order it must be read from the bottom of this page upwards.
NOTE: We will do our best to capture as much of the lecture and subsequent discussion as we can, but we will not be able to capture all of it. However, we will release full video of the event in both English and Persian (Farsi).
April 28 2010
Video of Dr. Shirin Ebadi’s lecture in Vancouver with English translation:
Video of the post-lecture Q&A session with the audience, followed by media interview session (including a question from IranNewsNow):
11:20PM Pacific Time
After the audience left the theatre, Dr. Ebadi stayed behind to answer questions from the media that were present. We asked her a question pertaining to the ability of her NGO in Iran to continue its work while she is away. We will release the video for this, along with the full lecture in both English and Persian over the next few days.
Earlier, we reported that another journalist had told us that MKO and monarchists may show up to protest. We did not see any obvious presence of either groups before, during or after the event. The journalist that provided this information turned out to be quite shifty during the event, behaving unprofessionally and making strange statements. As such, we believe his statement was not credible.
9:30PM Pacific Time
– end of Q&A session –
9:20PM Pacific Time
In your opinion how can people living outside Iran help the people inside Iran?
Are you going to ask the U.N. to take a stance against human rights abuses in Iran?
Answer by Dr. Ebadi:
The utmost effort should be to keep the culture of Iran alive. Teach the language and culture of Iran to your people! I am saddened when I see our children abroad not able to speak the language! All they know is Norouz and other celebrations. Have you forgotten Iran? Just because you live outside of Iran doesn’t mean your children should forget their culture or roots!
Governments come and go. Ahmadinejad’s come and go. It is Iran that must survive!
With regards to the U.N. and governments. Talk to them. Make them spread your voice!
9:15PM Pacific Time
With regards to the possibility of democracy coming to Iran, Dr. Ebadi:
A hundred years ago, could anyone have predicted a black president in the U.S.?
The government of Iran uses violence to suppress people. Fortunately the people are asking for their requests in a very peaceful manner. This will take the nation to victory:
Question: U.S. VP Joe Biden has said that sanctions, correctly applied, can bring down the government in Iran. What do you think:
Dr. Ebadi’s Answer: Economic sanctions will make the situation of the people worse. All our efforts are to make the lives of the people better. However, we have to be careful that transactions that help the government suppress the people should not take place. For example, 2 months ago U.S. put a fine of $50million to a Swiss bank. I ask them why they can’t do something similar to those in the regime that hurt the people. Don’t put sanctions on the people! We want to do something to prevent further suppression of the people. Don’t retaliate against the regime and take revenge against the regime by treating the Iranian people poorly! For Iranian students it is very difficult to get a student visa to visit Canada, or to get a visa to visit their family.
The reason for these types of abuses on the Iranian people is because “the government of Iran is bad”. Well, we say fine, but then why do you take revenge on the people? Why don’t you do that to the regime? Leave the people alone.
9:10PM Pacific Time
What kind of government will replace this government?
Dr. Ebadi’s Answer:
Do you mean the government or the regime? If you mean the regime, it depends on how powerful the people are…
I defend human rights. I have no political attachments.
To me, it doesn’t matter who the individual is. It is their performance that matters.
Therefore I can’t name the individual. Anyone who can come that would make the people happy will suffice.
9:05PM Pacific Time
Dr. Ebadi’s speech has ended, and now a Q&A session with the audience is starting.
What do you see as the future of Iran? Do you see an end to the Islamic Republic of Iran?
The Green Movement is a democratic movement. People with diverse ideologies and thoughts take part in the movement. Therefore, this movements future is, in terms of its ideology, too soon to predict. The future of Iran can be easily predicted. This is because several factors can be detrimental to the future of Iran, including the international price of gas. The relationship of Iran and the U.S. The political situation of Iran and its neighbors. All of these factors can contribute and be detrimental to the future of Iran.
9:00PM Pacific Time
Regardless of the actions of the government of Iran, we are against military intervention in Iran! This would be harmful to the people!….
…Nokia Siemens corporation sold software to Iran that helps the government monitor cell phones and messages.
Some prisoners such as the brave journalist, Mr. Issa Saharkhiz, has stated that he was arrested as a result of this Nokia system, and has lodged a claim against the company.
8:55PM Pacific Time
The government of Iran has another excuse to escape human rights scrutiny.
They say the government gets their constitutional right from religion, which is above scrutiny.
One has to ask, where in Islam is it a crime to question politics?…
Such talks contradict Islam.
We can respect human rights and democracy through a correct interpretation of Islam.
I have to remind you that democracy does not happen overnight.
Democracy is a historical process and has to follow a process of development.
The good news is that this process has started in Iran.
This process will eventually force the government to hear the people’s voice.
8:50PM Pacific Time
Dr. Ebadi talked about Ruholamini’s murder in prison, and also about detainee abuse.
Some people were charged with a color coup because of Twitter, Facebook, activities.
Such an allegation is not even defined in Iranian law!
What does the prosecutor mean by this?
Rahim Safavi, Major General of Sepah, and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, has stated that a soft coup is encouraging people to want what people in the west want.
Also the commander of Sepah (IRGC) stated in a report in September 2009, “Elections and Democracy is a stepping stone towards a velvet coup, and the most strong point for the destruction of the revolution and the regime occurs at the election level.” Having said so, we have figured that if people give their votes to those other than those with political power then they are charged with a political coup.
Commander Jafari stated in a report to Fars News, “Preserving the Islamic Republic is more important than prayers.”
The late Ayat. Montazeri stated, “People are supposed to protect Islam, not the regime! And this government is neither Islamic, nor a Republic.”
After Ayat. Montazeri’s death, the government banned a service in his honour based on religious traditions. Numerous people were attacked and arrested for taking part in his funeral services.
Interestingly, each time the Islamic Republic of Iran gets questioned on human rights, the response is that “other people should not interfere in Iran’s internal affairs.”
This is while what happens in Iran is an extreme and systematic violation of human rights.
8:45PM Pacific Time
In the month of June, 2009, an election took place. The result triggered complaints from many people.
In order to show their complaint, 1 million people protested peacefully in the street.
The government declared the protests illegal, even though the constitution allows for this if it does not threaten Islam and their are no weapons.
People peacefully demonstrated with the slogan “Where is my vote?”
They were not jeopardizing the foundation of the government, nor Islam! The demonstration was just a protest to the result of the election!
Towards the end of the demonstration as the crowd were returning home, Basij started shooting at people from the top of a government building.
Some, including Sohrab Arabi were killed. Others were injured. And this is how the government’s harshness started.
The next day, at 3am police attacked the dorms at Tehran university.
They shot 5 students to death, 2 of which were female. Some were injured. According to a government declaration, more than 6000 people have been arrested in Tehran and other cities.
However, the number is much more than what was announced by the government.
8:40PM Pacific Time
The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has taken a massive stake in Iranian economics…
The question is, what has the IRGC got to do with oil and gas and exploration activities?
There are tons of problems. in 2006 the sum of 1 billion dollars. In 2007 10 billion dollars. And in 2008 18 billion dollars. –> Did not get deposited in the government treasury!
In other words, its now clear how this 29 billion dollars were spent over this 3 year term?
This contributes to the growing situation of poverty in Iran.
More than 10 million people live below the poverty line.
That means that 1 out of 7 Iranians lives under a dollar a day.
This is a disaster for a wealthy country like Iran.
Dear friends, ladies, and gentlemen. I merely address the areas in which the government of Iran violates human rights. Due to time restrictions I would like to talk briefly about the performance of the government over the last year.
Unfortunately, after China Iran has the highest level of execution.
Freedom of speech is extremely limited.
Iran ranks 171 out of 174 countries in terms of freedom of speech!
8:35PM Pacific Time
Interrogators of prisoners are allowed to keep someone in prison and interrogate them for as long as they want….
I have 18 years of experience as a lawyer and have been representing several political and journalist clients.
Yet there has never been even once, a single file, in which I was allowed to visit my political or journalist clients.
It is possible that a year can pass without such prisoners being allowed to see a lawyer.
Corporal punishment is common.
Punishments such as stoning, crucifixion, amputation of limbs, and worse being juvenile execution–after the revolution such resolutions have been approved.
…In 2009 Iran has the highest rate of juvenile execution in the world.
8:30PM Pacific Time
Famous filmmaker Jafar Panahi has been arrested and taken to Evin, and deprived of all his rights. This is because he is accused of wanting to make an anti-Islamic Republic movie in his own residence.
This means that they will go to the extent of arresting a famous journalist at the slightest mention of something being expressed against the government.
This means nobody has the right to even have any *thought* against the government!
8:25PM Pacific Time
The Islamic Republic doesn’t even allow Sunni Muslims to have a permit for their own mosque…. During Eid-al-Fitr, Sunnis go to the Pakistani embassy to pray….
There is censorship in publications [in Iran]….in recent years many books have been banned… Several writers have received jail-time for their writings….
According to press law, any criticism of the constitution is banned, and will result in the closure of a publication that breaks this law.
8:20PM Pacific Time
The official religion in Iran is Shiism…
But there are many groups in Iran that have different beliefs, and unfortunately for many of these groups, they are denied civil, political and cultural rights….
In fact, since the revolution, till now, the Bahai’s have been denied the right to university education!
The punishment for some offenses in Iran vary depending on the religion of the person.
By law, if a man and a woman commit fornication, the punishment is 100 lashes each. But if the woman is a muslim, but the man is a jew, the woman will still receive 100 lashes, but the man will be executed.
8:15PM Pacific Time
In our legislation there is a gender based discrimation which I would like to point out.
According to legislation passed after the revolution, the value of a woman is half that of a man…
So if a woman and a man get into a fight, and are equally injured, they woman only is entitled to half the compensation of a man.
Furthermore, a womans word in the court is worth half that of a man.
A man can have up to four wives.
Such legislation is incompatible with the Iranian society!
It has been years that 65% of university students in Iran are students…
8:10PM Pacific Time
Dr. Paul Gravett, the organizer of the event was introduced. I have had the pleasure of talking to him on the phone many times in the past couple of weeks. Thank you Dr. Gravett!
MP Weston: “Ebadi is someone who promotes womens rights, not with anger but with dignity…”
“She won the Nobel Prize in 2003 for her pioneering efforts for human rights…”
“At the ripe old age of 22 she became Iran’s first woman judge…”
“In 1979 with ousting of the Shah she was demoted to secretary…”
“…to this day, she fights for dissidents and people who take positions against the government.”
“One of her clients was the murdered journalist, Zahra Kazemi….”
“Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Dr. Shirin Ebadi!”
– standing ovation and applause –
8:05PM Pacific Time
MP John Weston: “As she [Dr. Ebadi] speaks, please think about our own rights in Canada. Please think about how important they are….”
“Dr. Ebadi’s seeks to rally the Canadian Iranian Community…”
He mentioned that she will be touring Ottawa … will meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper… and appearing with activist Nazanin Afshin Jam…”
8:00PM Pacific Time
The event has begun. Member of Parliament from North Vancouver, Andrew Saxon was just introduced.
MP, John Weston was introduced as the first liaison to the Iranian-Canadian community.
7:17PM Pacific Time
Another journalist has mentioned that he has received word that the MKO (Mojaheddin-e-Khargh Organization) and monarchist may show up to protest the fact that the flag of Iran that will be shown is not the traditional Iranian lion-and-sun flag. We will report on any developments.
7:10PM Pacific Time
MP John Weston mentioned that Shirin Ebadi represented Canadian-Iranian journalist Zahra Kazemi, who was killed while being held by the Iranian government.
His practice speech is over and he has left the room.
7:03PM Pacific Time
Canadian Member of Parliament John Weston, host of the event, has arrived and is practicing his introduction.
“Our freedoms set us apart from many countries… Our freedom of speech, tolerance, set us apart from the world…”
“Violation of rights anywhere is a violation of human rights everywhere….”
6:55PM Pacific Time
Dr. Shirin Ebadi has arrived in Vancouver for a lecture on human rights. We will be live-blogging the event. We will also be interviewing Dr. Ebadi, and will release a video of the event after it has completed.
She is scheduled to start at 7:30PM Pacific Time.