Nobel Peace Prize winner shares film, answers questions at CU Boulder

Apr. 7—Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi shared her film and spoke on the ongoing human rights crisis in Iran at the University of Colorado Boulder on Friday.

Ebadi is known for her work fighting for human rights and gender equality in Iran. Through her translator, Shirin Ershadi, Ebadi said she hopes the event will help people understand the difficulties human rights advocates face in Iran.

“The government of Iran is always suspicious of defenders of human rights and sees them as their enemies,” Ebadi said. “So the defenders of human rights are always facing censorship in Iran, and sometimes they’ll be put in prison, arrested and sometimes even have long punishments.”

Ebadi spent five years in prison, including solitary confinement. Her family, husband and friends have been imprisoned and tortured by the Iranian government, and her home and workplace were raided and seized. She’s lived in exile in London since 2009.

Ebadi is a lawyer and was the first female judge in Iran until 1979, when the Islamic Revolution overthrew the government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. After that, Ebadi was not allowed to work as a judge due to the revolutionaries’ interpretation of Islamic law.

In 1994, she co-founded the Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child and in 2002 co-founded the Defenders of Human Rights Center. In 2003, she received the Nobel Peace Prize, and in 2006 she co-founded the Nobel Women’s Initiative.

She presented her film “Until We Are Free” on Friday, followed by a question-and-answer session. The film detailed the history of Iran, Ebadi’s childhood and her life as a lawyer and activist.

Shideh Dashti is an associate professor and acting associate dean for research in engineering at CU Boulder who helped organize the event and Ebadi’s visit. As an Iranian-American, Dashti said she wants people to be educated on Iran and its history.

“I think that historical, educational piece is important,” Dashti said. “And with familiarity and education comes compassion. That’s what we are hoping for, compassion and support.”

Ebadi said the most important thing people can do about the situation in Iran is to reflect on the news in Iran and try to understand what people are going through and how it can affect the United States.

“Oppression of people and violation of human rights are like a virus,” Ebadi said. “So, we can’t just decide to be silent about it, because it is contagious. If it happens in one society, it can take over. And it can take over all over the world.”

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