Dr Shirin Ebadi was born on June 22nd, 1947 in Hamadan-Iran. Her father, Professor Mohammad Ali Ebadi was a lecturer in Commercial Law. His book “Commercial Law” was later edited and updated by his daughter, Shirin.
When Shirin was only a year old, her family moved to Tehran where she receieved her education. In 1965, she started her law degree, completing it 3 years later. In 1970, after a period of internship, she became one the first female judges in Iran. She soon progressed through the ranks and was appointed Chief Magistrate of 26th Divisional Court in Tehran in 1975 – again making her the youngest and first female for the post.
Shirin married in 1975 and has two daughters, Negar and Nargess.
In 1979, immediately after the Islamic revolution in Iran, all female judges were dismissed as the then revolutionaries believed that women were forbidden from passing judgment. She was demoted to the post of a magistrate’s clerk in the very same court over which she once presided. Soon after, she opted for early retirement.
In 1992, she set up a private practice handling contentious cases. She was the defense lawyer for many controversial political and human rights cases in Iran including, Zahra Kazemi (a journalist killed in Evin prison), Parvaneh and Dariush Foroohar (well-known political activists, killed by security forces), Ezat Ebrahim Nejad (killed in the dormitory of Tehran University, 1999), and Zahra Bani Yaghoob (a young doctor, killed in detention). She also took on the case of the seven leaders of the Baha’i faith in Iran. All these activities led to her incarceration on charges of spreading and publishing lies against the Islamic Republic in 1999. She spent 25 days in solitary confinement. The first court convicted her to one-and-a- half year imprisonment and barred her from practicing law for 5 years. In the appeal process and due to international pressure, her sentence was reduced to a fine.
Dr. Ebadi won the Nobel Prize in 2003. She used some of the prize money to set up an office for the Center for Defenders of Human Rights and support the families of political prisoners. This center became a prominent human rights organization. As a result it was honored by the National Human Rights of France in 2003. In 2008 the center was closed down by the security forces. They confiscated the building.
Dr. Ebadi left Iran shortly before the June 2009 presidential election to participate in a conference in Spain. She did not return to Iran owing to the severe restrictions imposed on human rights activists, and upon receiving news of her colleagues’ arrests and many killings. She continued her activities in de facto exile. The Iranian government, disapproving of her actions, filed a case against her in the revolutionary court. The government confiscated her properties, including the office of the CDHR, on the pretext of unpaid taxes. Moreover, to blackmail and silence Dr. Ebadi, her sister and her husband were arrested by the security forces.
Comparative Children’s Rights (1997)
Iran Awakening: One Woman’s Journey to Reclaim Her Life and Country (2007)
The Golden Cage: three brothers, three choices, once destiny (2011)
Honorary doctorate, Williams College/US, 2004
Honorary doctorate, Liege University/Belgium, 2004
Honorary doctorate, Brown University/US, 2004
Honorary doctorate, University of British Columbia/Canada, 2004
Honorary doctorate, University of Maryland, College Park/US, 2004
Honorary doctorate, University of Toronto/Canada, 2004
Honorary doctorate, Simon Fraser University/US, 2004
Honorary doctorate, Koc University/ Istanbul, 2004
Honorary doctorate, University of Akureyri/Iceland, 2004
Honorary doctorate, Australian Catholic University/Australia, 2005
Honorary doctorate, University of San Francisco/US, 2005
Honorary doctorate, Concordia University/US, 2005
Honorary doctorate, York University/Canada, 2005
Honorary doctorate, The University of York/UK, 2005
Honorary doctorate, Université Jean Moulin in Lyon/ France, 2005
Honorary doctorate, Loyola University Chicago/US, 2007
Honorary doctorate The New School University/US, 2007
Honorary doctor of Laws, Marquette University/US, 2009
Honorary doctorate, Genova University/Italy, 2010
Honorary doctorate, Madrid European University/Spain, 2010
Honorary doctorate, University of Cambridge/UK, 2011
Honorary doctorate, University of Westfield/US, 2012
Honorary doctorate, Law Society/Toronto, June 2012
Honorary doctorate, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) London, July 2012
Honorary doctorate, Cesar Vallejo, Peru, 2016
HONORS and AWARDS
Nobel Peace Prize in October, 2003
International Democracy Award, 2004
Lawyer of the Year Award, 2004
James Parks Morton Interfaith Award from the Interfaith Centre of New York, 2004 Women’s eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Award/US, 2004
“Novi cives: builders of citizenship” within the XII edition of the “International Festival of History”-
Bologna/ Italy/ October 2015
Honorary Citizen of “Torino di Sangro”/ Italy, May 2016
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