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Nobel winner slams war on terror

Ebadi receives the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize during a ceremony in Oslo.
Ebadi receives the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize during a ceremony in Oslo.

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Shirin Ebadi fights for the rights of women and children.
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OSLO, Norway -- This year's Nobel Peace Prize winner says the September 11 attacks have been used as an excuse to violate international law and human rights.

Iran's Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to win the prize, did not mention the U.S. by name but was clearly referring to Washington and its allies in a speech prepared for delivery at the official award ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

Ebadi, recognized for her fight for children's and women's rights in Iran, collected a gold medal and the $1.4 million award from the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee at Oslo City Hall.

The 56-year-old lawyer said Wednesday: "In the past two years, some states have violated the universal principles and laws of human rights by using the events of September 11 and the war on international terrorism as a pretext.

"Regulations restricting human rights and basic freedoms ... have been justified and given legitimacy under the cloak of the war on terrorism," she said.

Ebadi also slammed Washington for ignoring U.N. resolutions in the Middle East while using them as a pretext for launching a war in Iraq.

"Why is it that in the past 35 years, dozens of U.N. resolutions concerning the occupation of the Palestinian territories by the state of Israel have not been implemented properly?" she asked.

"Yet, in the past 12 years, the state and people of Iraq, once on the recommendation of the Security Council, and the second time in spite of U.N. Security Council opposition, were subjected to attack, military assault, economic sanctions, and ultimately, military occupation?"

U.S. President George W. Bush's administration launched the Iraq war in March saying President Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But the war did not have explicit backing from the Security Council.

The Nobel laureate also criticized what she called breaches of the Geneva conventions at the United States' Guantanamo military prison in Cuba.

Nobel experts said the five members of the Nobel committee, who included three women, probably chose Ebadi as a way of promoting change in Iran.

The Middle Eastern nation was once branded part of an "axis of evil" by U.S. President George W. Bush with pre-war Iraq and North Korea.

Ebadi received Norway's Rafto Prize in 2001 for her sustained fight for human rights and democracy in the Islamic country.

She received her law degree from the University of Tehran and, as a lawyer, has been involved in several controversial political cases. As a result, she has been imprisoned by Iranian authorities on numerous occasions.

From 1975 to 1979, she served as president of the city court of Tehran and became the country's first woman judge judge. But after the revolution in 1979 she was forced to resign and now works as a lawyer and also teaches at the University of Tehran.

She successfully campaiged to reveal those responsible for the 1999 attack on Tehran University students. Several students died in the violence.

Ebadi is the founder and leader of the Association for Support of Children's Rights in Iran. She is also the author of a number of books on human rights.


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