Vienna, 28 May 2005 Press release

Plassnik: "Shirin Ebadi – a pioneer of human rights"


Foreign Minister welcomes Iranian Nobel Peace Prize winner in Vienna – situation of human rights and women’s rights at the centre of the talks

Vienna, 28 May 2005 - "Shirin Ebadi is a forceful pioneer of human rights and the rights of women in particular. Her untiring commitment to democracy is exemplary", Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said after their joint talk on Saturday.

The Iranian lawyer, human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner, who has come to Austria to mark the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Bertha von Suttner, has for years been fighting for a strengthening of democracy and human rights in her home country.

The talks centred on the situation of human rights in Iran and an exchange of opinion on the Iranian judiciary and the current presidential election campaign. The Foreign Minister considered reports about imminent executions, particularly by stoning or in the case of juvenile delinquents, as extremely worrying. "I assume that Iran is complying with its international commitments and with the relevant moratoria in this context", Plassnik said. At the same time, civil law reforms are urgently needed to improve the lives of women in Iran. "We would like to see these social changes implemented, but we have to be aware that such reforms have to be initiated from inside the country in order to be effective", the Foreign Minister stated. In view of the forthcoming presidential elections, Plassnik regretted the most recent decision of the Guardian Council to reject more than 1000 applicants, including all female applicants.

The human rights dialogue the European Union has been conducting with Iran since December 2002 is important. It has to be conducted in a focused and target-oriented manner in order to be able to produce specific and quantifiable results, Plassnik said.