During the summer Chicago Foundation for Women announced that Peace Noble laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi would be the main speaker at its annual luncheon and symposium on September 11, 2007. As it is customary of such events tickets were offered to the public. The usual communication networks also informed Iranian community in Chicago about the event. However on September 4th there was a press release that Shirin Ebadi would not be attending this event. It reads:
“Iranian Human Rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Shirin Ebadi was originally scheduled to appear but the government of Iran has refused to let her leave the country.”
Instead Activist and comedic actor Kathy Najimy will be the foundation annual luncheon speaker. As someone who reads Farsi and follows the news on the both sides of the hills, I must admit there was not any piece of news regarding Iranian government refusing to let Dr. Shirin Ebadi leave the country. By this I mean that there was nothing about it on numerous websites and weblogs. I have checked BBC Persian, Gooya.com and Balatarin.com as well as some individual websites and Dr. Ebadi’s own website. There is no mention of such travel ban.
On the very same day of this press release, September 4th, Washington Post ran a story on Parnaz Azima Radio Farda’s reporter in Iran whose lawyer is Dr. Ebadi. Dr. Ebadi was cited saying that government has returned Ms. Azima’s passport and she is free to leave. Dr. Ebadi has a very heavy schedule. Just recently she invited United Nations to send an envoy to Tehran to probe women’s rights in the country. She has been involved in numerous cases that demand a great deal of her time. Certainly not everyone in Iranian government is thrilled about her and her activities. However the only place that reports that she has been banned from leaving country is Chicago Foundation for Women. I find it very hard to believe that there is such a ban.