Unfortunately, the United States and a few other governments have used the war on terrorism as a way of violating human rights. I am referring to the case of the Guantánamo Bay prisoners. This violation of the rights of prisoners has been so unbelievable that the United Nations has reminded the United States repeatedly that the treatment of prisoners should take place according to the preestablished conventions of the United Nations.
We shouldn't just consider the desire of government to do what it wants to do. We should always consider the resistance of people. The culture of Iranian people doesn't let the government drag people into deep trouble or backlash. Maybe government wants it, but the culture doesn't let it go on.
When there is enough oxygen in the air for everyone, no one is going to take to violence in order to access it. But if there were not enough of it for everyone then people would result to violence in order to get it. Therefore we have to improve the conditions to have better human beings.
I know of no civilization that tolerates or justifies violence, terrorism, or injustice. There is no civilization that justifies the killing of innocent people. Those who are invoking cultural relativism are really using that as an excuse for violating human rights and to put a cultural mask on the face of what they're doing.
The people of Iran have been battling against consecutive conflicts between tradition and modernity for over 100 years ... [some have tried] to see the world through the eyes of their predecessors and to deal with the problems and difficulties of the existing world by virtue of the values of the ancients... [others] seek to go forth in step with world developments and not lag behind the caravan of civilization, development and progress.
democracy ... is not something that occurs overnight. It is not a gift delivered on a golden tray. Democracy is a long process of fighting, challenging accepted ideas, and perpetually striving for freedom. Like a seed that has to be watered every day to become a flower, democracy needs constant attention and care.
My hopes for Iran's future lies with women first and foremost. Iran's feminist movement is very strong. This movement has no leader or head quarters. Its place is the home of every Iranian who believes in equal rights. This is currently the strongest women's movement in the Middle East.
The most important problem in Iran is that the courts have lost their independence, and they are under the influence of the Ministry of Intelligence and their people. This is why we witness a number of journalists and human rights activists, my colleagues, and a number of feminists, in prison.
Unfortunately, violence begets violence. And this is how the war on terrorism seems to be going at this juncture. A lot of people are losing their lives. Many children are losing their parents. Too many houses are being destroyed. And, unfortunately, the arms industry seems to flourish.
In my memoir, I wanted to introduce American women to Iranian women and our lives. I'm not from the highest echelons of society, nor the lowest. I'm a women who is a lawyer, who is a professor at a university, who won the Nobel Peace Prize. At the same time, I cook. And even when I'm about to go to prison, one of the first things I do is to make enough food and put it in the fridge for my family.
The younger generation is essentially idealistic. This applies to the Iranian youth as well. In addition, the youth in Iran face certain difficulties... the Iranian youth need more freedom. They are struggling for more freedom and democracy. This commands great respect.
I want to take my American friends back to the end of World War II, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was formulated. A group of thinkers met to come up with ways and means to prevent yet another war. Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt played a crucial role in assembling this group of people. And that is why the name of the United States is synonymous with the cause of human rights around the world.
The international community can't trust such a government. If the government of Iran wants the international community to believe in what it says, it should try to bring true, pure democracy into the country. The political solution to the energy issue or the nuclear case is democracy in Iran.
Sixty-three percent of our university students are female. But you still see violations of women's rights in Iran. A Muslim man can have up to four wives. He can divorce his wife without offering any reason, while it is quite difficult for a woman to get a divorce.
Whenever women protest and ask for their rights, they are silenced with the argument that the laws are justified under Islam. It is an unfounded argument. It is not Islam at fault, but rather the patriarchal culture that uses its own interpretations to justify whatever it wants.