Malaysia’s Cowardly Ban of Shirin Ebadi
Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 23rd October, 2008
The 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi — a distinguished lawyer and Secretary-General of the Human Rights Centre in Iran — was due to give a series of lectures in Malaysia during the first week of November, on the theme of ‘Bridges: Dialogues towards a Culture of Peace’, under the auspices of the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute, the International Islamic University, the International Peace Foundation and the University of Malaya. But the Malaysian Foreign Ministry has instructed local host organisations that they must withdraw their invitations to her, to ’preserve good relations with Iran’. This is in total violation of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 1998 and denies the people of Malaysia the chance to hear an important moderate voice in the Islamic world.
Earlier this year, Ms Ebadi was the target of death threats and media slander campaigns in Iran, which is maybe not surprising given the nature of the regime in Tehran. But it is inexcusable for the Malaysian government to capitulate to pressure from the Iranian mullahs, thereby undermining Kuala Lumpur’s claims to be a modern, multicultural beacon in Asia.