The office for the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, which is headed by Shirin Ebadi, was shut down yesterday by security and police officers prior to holding a meeting to commemorate the international Human Rights Day.
The public relations office of the Center for the Defense of Human Rights noted in a statement issued an hour after it was shut by security agents, “In addition to the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, our offices also operated another non-governmental organization called ‘Center for Cooperation in Clearing Mines’ which was founded by Shirin Ebadi and a group of her colleagues. In effect, the offices of two non-governmental organizations were shut down with this illegal act.
The Center for the Defense of Human Rights is an internationally recognized organization and a formal member of the International Confederation of Human Rights Societies along with 190 other countries.
The Center has three main missions according to its bylaws: “pro bono representation of political and ideological defendants, support of families of political and ideological prisoners and sustained and orderly reports of human rights violations cases in Iran.” Since, in the past two years, none of the United Nations’ official human rights reporters have been issued visas to come to Iran, many international organizations relied on the Center’s reports, among them Bon Ki Moon, the United Nations Secretary General, who cited the report of the Center for the Defense of Human Rights in the report that he presented at the General Assembly’s December 2008 meeting.
An hour after issuing its first statement regarding the shutting down of the Center’s office, the public relations office of the Center issued a second statement. This statement notes, “In light of the fact that the office for the Center for the Defense of Human Rights has been shut down illegally and without due process therefore, as we have indicated before, any alleged document or evidence that is generated from raiding the office for the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, if it is to be used against human rights defenders to pressure them, is worthless and another sign of the illegal behavior of officers who attacked the Center’s office.”
Following the attack on the Center for the Defense of Human Rights, Kayhan newspaper referred to the group as a “little group” [a name used during the early days of the Islamic Republic to refer to armed groups fighting the regime]. Citing “some European newspapers” (without mentioning their names) Kayhan reported “the mission of the newly-founded little group Center for the Defense of Human Rights to undermine the Islamic Republic of Iran,” and claimed that “the aforementioned Center was established under the guidance and using a special budget of the U.S. Vice Preisdent Dick Cheney.”
Kayhan added, “Creating safe haven for those accused of inciting instability, partition and espionage for foreign intelligence services were among the little group’s missions.”
Noting that since the “interior ministry in 2007 had declared the Center for the Defense of Human Rights illegal and without a permit, the closing of the little group’s office is carried out with a 2-year delay,” Kayhan wrote, “The coordinated response of anti-revolutionary groups with foreign circles connected to foreign intelligence services, while justifying the necessity for shutting down this Center’s office, portrays the two-year delay in carrying out this act an indefensible and unjustifiable act.”