Norway has reacted strongly to the news that the Iranian authorities have confiscated the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Shirin Ebadi in 2003. The Iranian Chargé d’affaires was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday afternoon.
“This is the first time a Nobel Peace Prize has been confiscated by national authorities. The medal and the diploma have been removed from Dr Ebadi’s bank box, together with other personal items. Such an act leaves us feeling shock and disbelief,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
State Secretary Gry Larsen met the Iranian Chargé d’affaires yesterday and protested against the confiscation of Dr Ebadi’s prize. She also expressed grave concern about the way Dr Ebadi’s husband had been treated. Earlier this autumn, he was arrested in Tehran and severely beaten. His pension has been stopped and his bank account has been frozen.
This is not the first time the Norwegian authorities have taken up the situation of Nobel Laureate Shirin Ebadi. Norway has expressed grave concern about the Iranian authorities’ treatment of Dr Ebadi on several occasions during the past few years, for example against the closure of her human rights centre a year ago.
According to the Foreign Minister, the persecution of Dr Ebadi and her family shows that freedom of expression is under great pressure in Iran.
“During the meeting with the Iranian Chargé d’affaires, we made it clear that Norway will continue to engage in international efforts to protect human rights defenders, and will follow the situation in Iran closely,” said Mr Støre.