Western countries’ fixation on Iran’s disputed nuclear program is blinding them to human rights abuses, Nobel Peace Prize-laureate Shirin Ebadi has said. “In recent years, the nuclear issue has become the only subject that gets talked about abroad but it’s the tree that hides the forest, the forest being human rights violations in Iran,” Ebadi told journalists in Paris on March 15. The West suspects Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge rejected by Tehran, which says its atomic program is purely for civilian energy purposes. “Iran holds two sad records: that for the number of imprisoned journalists and that for the number of minors executed,” the human rights campaigner said. Girls can be held criminally responsible from the age of nine in the country and boys from the age of 15, she said. Ebadi, who has lived in exile in London for the last six months, said that Iran’s protest movement was made up of different political persuasions but “the common denominator is democracy and respect for human rights.” (AFP)

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