At Nobel Peace Prize Forum

Ian Byrne

Ian Byrne here again. Before you make fun of me for posting after midnight on a Friday night, do know that I’m writing from a hotel room in Decorah, Iowa. Hold off on our beloved football chant for now though. I’m attending the Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Luther College. Every year, one Midwestern college (Augsburg, Augustana, Concordia, Luther or St. Olaf) hosts the previous year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate along with programs relating to peace building efforts. This is the last year however that the Forum will be hosted at one of those give schools. Next year’s Forum will be held at the U and Augsburg. More to come on that later though. 

President Obama was unable to attend this year. Iranian human rights activist and 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Shirin Ebadi was invited to speak in his place. I saw her tonight in a Q&A session moderated by Eboo Patel and was very inspired hearing about her work and the state of the political situation in Iran.

A few things from the talk that I found interesting:

–Asked to address the side of Iran not seen in the U.S.,  Ebadi highlighted a few pieces of Iranian history that had a women’s rights theme to it. Two queens ruled Iran 2500 years ago. Fifty years ago women were given the right to vote and elected to parliament. Of university students in Iran, 65% are women. 

–When asked what she admired about America, Ebadi responded, “The freedom in America. But don’t let it be taken away from you. You wonder how they will do that? All of the media outlets are owned by a small group of people. The U.S. has a very good thing called anti-trust laws, but why are they not enforced on the media?”

–She mentioned that over 100 university students and 15 prominent professors are in prison in Iran. Ebadi said that what is important is that people from around the world voice their opposition to the jailing of students and academics in Iran. She said that the best way was to write the Iranian interests section at the Pakistani embassy. “It is important for compassion to be shown on the other side of the world,” she said.

If you are interested in writing a letter to the Interests Section of the Islamic Republican of Iran stating your opposition to their policies of jailing opposition leaders, academics, students, and anyone else that does not agree with the government, the address is:

Embassy of Pakistan

Interests Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran

2209 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20007

 

I will follow up with another post pertaining to this subject soon.

–Finally, Ebadi stated that she believes the Iranian people can remind the American people of what it’s like to fight for freedom. She said that democracy is like a flower: you cannot pour a bucket of water on it one day and then not water it for a month.

For now, I’ve got some sheep waiting to be counted. Please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts. Below are some links I found regarding recent developments in Iran. More to come tomorrow. 

-Ian

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Mystery Deepens on Status of Iran Opposition Leaders (NYT)

Continued Disappearance of Opposition Figures Raises Concerns of Torture (International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran)

Iranian Protesters Ask for Release of Opposition Leaders (NPR)

Iran Opposition: Over 200 ‘arrested’ in Tuesday protest (BBC)