Nobel Winner Accuses U.S. of Int’l Law, Human Rights Violations

December 11, 2003 - 0:0
OSLO (AFP) - Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on Wednesday, seized the opportunity to accuse the United States of using the September 11 attacks to justify violating international law and human rights.

"In the past two years, some states have violated the universal principles and laws of human rights by using the events of September 11 and the war on international terrorism as a pretext," Ebadi said in her acceptance speech, without mentioning the United States by name.

"International human rights laws are breached not only by their recognized opponents..., but ... these principles are also violated in Western democracies," she added.

Ebadi, 56, received the prize from chairman of the Nobel committee Ole Mjoes at a formal ceremony in Oslo's City Hall, marked by the absence of King Harald V of Norway who was recovering from cancer surgery.

"All people are entitled to fundamental rights, and at a time when Islam is being demonized in many quarters of the Western world, it was the Norwegian Nobel Committee's wish to underline how important and how valuable it is to foster dialogue between peoples and between civilizations," Mjoes said in his introduction speech.

The ceremony was attended by Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Regent Haakon Magnus, and Crown Princess Mette-Marit. In her speech, Ebadi also commented on prisoners detained at a U.S. base in Cuba, saying they were "without the benefit of the rights stipulated under the international Geneva conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the (UN) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights."

Chosen for her democracy-building efforts and her work to improve human rights and women's rights in Iran Ebadi also pointed to selective application of UN decisions.

"Why is it that some decisions and resolutions of the UN Security Council are binding, while some other resolutions of the council have no binding force?" she asked, pointing to the different treatment of Israel and Iraq.

"Why is it that in the past 35 years, dozens of UN resolutions concerning the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the state of Israel have not been implemented properly," she continued.

"Yet, in the past 12 years, the state and people of Iraq... were subjected to attack, military assault, economic sanctions, and, ultimately, military occupation," she said.

Ebadi reiterated that Islam and human rights are compatible, instead blaming the patriarchal culture in Iran for the discrimination against women.

"The discriminatory plight of women in Islamic states... has its roots in the patriarchal and male-dominated culture prevailing in these societies, not in Islam," she said.

The human rights advocate is the third Muslim and the 11th woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which consists of a diploma, a gold medal, and a cheque for 10 million Swedish kronor (about 1.4 million dollars, 1.1 million euros).

At a separate ceremony in Stockholm later on Wednesday, the winners of the Literature, Medicine, Physics, Chemistry and Economics prizes were scheduled to receive their awards from King Carl XVI Gustaf in the city's Concert Hall.

That ceremony was to be followed by a gala banquet for 1,300 guests at Stockholm's City Hall.