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Nobel Laureate Ebadi Criticizes Human Rights in Iran

Nobel laureate Shireen Ebadi (file photo)

Nobel laureate Shireen Ebadi (file photo)

Nobel laureate Shireen Ebadi has criticized the lack of human rights in her native Iran, but warned that a military strike or economic sanctions are not the way to improve the situation. Ebadi told reporters Tuesday at the United Nations in New York that there should be political sanctions on human rights violators.

Ebadi listed numerous violations on human rights in her homeland, including Iran's world ranking as the top executioner of minors, its unknown number of political prisoners, the strict implementation of Islamic punishments - such as chopping off the hands of thieves - and the frequent use of the death penalty.

Ebadi said, "When the government executes people, not even the corpse is returned to the family, or the place of burial is informed."

She said human rights defenders do not want to see a military strike on Iran or further economic sanctions, but they support targeted sanctions such as travel bans and asset freezes on the authorities responsible for these human rights violations.

"Let's make the world smaller for violators of human rights," she said. "Now that it is not possible to apply justice in Iran, let's apply it in other countries."

On the much publicized case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the 43-year-old woman convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning, Ebadi said her case is not unique.

"There are other prisoners awaiting their turn for stoning," said Ebadi. "So we have to work on saving them as well. Therefore, we have to convert the campaign for Sakineh into a campaign against stoning."

Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her work as a lawyer and human rights activist in Iran. She was speaking at a news conference organized by the International Federation for Human Rights. The group said Iran executed at least 338 persons in 2009, but cautions the real number is likely much higher since many executions are done in secret.