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According to the UN calendar, September 21 is International Peace Day, an occasion to urge people all over the world to commemorate peace and friendship.
Respect, safety, and dignity for all are the themes of this year’s International Peace Day.
Paying homage to the day, Radio Farda’s Elaheh Ravanshad has prepared some straightforward questions on the themes for Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi. Here’s an extract.

Radio Farda: Everybody has their own definition for the word “peace.” As a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, how would you define it?

Shirin Ebadi: Peace does not mean the absence of war. Peace has its own conditions. Under those conditions, people should be able to live freely while keeping their human dignity intact. It doesn’t make any difference if one is killed by the enemy’s bullet or because of being deprived of the right to have access to the needed medicine or vaccination. It doesn’t make any difference if one is captured by the enemy or forced to spend years behind bars for writing a report. It also makes no difference if an alien force kicks you out of your home and occupies it or, in the middle of the night, you are forced to wander around the world after your assets are confiscated.

Therefore, all these cases disturb the correct meaning of the word “peace,” which is calmness and tranquility.

The real meaning of peace, I reiterate, is a collection of conditions in which people can live freely without losing their human dignity.

Any kind of law or act that disturbs mankind’s calmness and tranquility will result in the disturbance of a society’s peace. That’s why, in many societies, we see a peaceful facade, i.e. there we see tranquility, but I compare its quietness to the quietude of a cemetery.

Radio Farda: Based on your definition, to what degree there is peace and reconciliation in Iran?

Ebadi: Sadly, the conditions necessary for peace in Iran are missing since the human dignity has been damaged and human rights have systematically and frequently been violated there. Looking at the number of journalists behind bars leaves you with no option other than concluding that if there’s peace in Iran, it’s the same as the calmness and tranquility ruling over cemeteries. Sooner or later, such peace and tranquility are doomed to be disturbed.

Radio Farda: Who is responsible for the establishment of peace in a society: the citizens, without receiving any assistance from the government or the regime, or is it solely the ruling system’s responsibility to keep the people happy and satisfied?

Ebadi: Peace, truthfully, is a culture that should be learned from childhood. Every citizen, as well as the ruling system, is responsible for safeguarding and promoting the culture of peace.

We are living in a society suffering from widespread discrimination against religious minorities, including Baha’is and even Sunnis. We are also living in a society in which ethnic minorities’ rights are violated; they are not allowed to participate in politics at higher levels. Such society, quite naturally, is deprived of peace and tranquility and, furthermore, I would like to refer to the regime’s foreign policy and its meddling and interfering in the internal affairs of other countries of the region.

I am sad to say the ruling system has deployed military forces to interfere in internal affairs of Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. This has disturbed Iran’s peace. It has created so many foreign enemies for Iran. Therefore, people are always worried about foreign enemies and the possibility of being attacked from outside.

at/fg

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    Elahe Ravanshad

    Elahe Ravanshad has been a broadcast journalist at Radio Farda since 2004. She focuses on covering social issues. She can be reached at: ravanshade@rferl.org

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