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Opinion

To the West: Don't sacrifice democracy with Iran

Two questions for 2003 Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi

October 19, 2009



Nathan Gardels, editor of Global Viewpoint, spoke with Shirin Ebadi, a 2003 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, on Sunday, Oct. 18.

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Nathan Gardels: There seems to be a breakthrough in negotiations among Iran, the US, and Europe on uranium enrichment, with Iran allowing IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspection of its new enrichment plant near Qom on Oct. 25 and entertaining the idea of sending low-enriched uranium abroad to reprocess for medical purposes. Does this portend less tension with the West overall?

Shirin Ebadi: It is early to judge. We must wait and see if Iran will fulfill the promises it makes. At the same time, while the US talks of negotiations, it is also preparing to strengthen sanctions. This shows that despite improvement in relations, neither side is able to gain the full trust of the other side.

Gardels: What impact, if any, might this fragile new relationship have on the so-called democratic "green movement" in Iran, led by former presidential candidate Moussavi, which is still protesting the election results?

Ebadi: Its impact will depend on whether the nuclear energy issue is negotiated alone, or if democracy and human rights, too, are on the agenda of the talks. Because in the latter case, people in Iran will understand that the West is interested in their fate as much as it cares about its own security, which will strengthen the green movement. But if in the negotiations, the West sacrifices democracy to gain on the nuclear issue front, naturally the impact is negative. It does not mean the movement will subside, but the people of Iran will be left alone in their struggle.

Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer, human rights activist, and founder of Centre for the Defence of Human Rights in Iran. Ms. Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her significant and pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, especially women's, children's, and refugee rights. She was the first Iranian, and the first Muslim woman, to receive the prize.

Nathan Gardels is the editor of Global Viewpoint.

© Global Viewpoint. Distributed by Tribune Media Services. Hosted online by The Christian Science Monitor.

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