Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi called upon the United States yesterday to help strengthen international human rights law, and stressed the need for political, as opposed to economic, sanctions against the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for its human rights abuses.
Speaking at an Iran conference at George Washington University’s Institute for Middle East Studies, Ebadi, the 2003 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, examined how democratic countries should behave toward non-democratic countries like Iran. “The worst solution is a military attack,” Ebadi said. “Democracy is not merchandise to be exported to a country, democracy cannot be purchased and sent to another country.”
In the past, Ebadi has strongly criticized the U.S. invasion of Iraq, saying that it increased Iran’s influence in the region and politically benefited hardliners in Iran. “Dictators actually like to be attacked by foreigners,” Ebadi said yesterday, “so using excuse of national security, they can put away their opposition.”
Ebadi also opposed the use of economic sanctions, “because they will hurt the people.” “Notwithstanding the ten years of economic sanctions against Iraq,” she said, “Saddam was still there, while many people died deprived of food and medication.”
The best tools against regimes like Iran’s, Ebadi said, are political sanctions, which she described as “measures taken against violators of human rights, [but] that do not hurt the people.”
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