Shirin Ebadi

Iranian Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi is asking a United Nations representative to include the closure of Iran’s House of Cinema in his assessment of human rights in the Islamic Republic.

In an open letter to Ahmad Shaheed, the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, Ebadi condemned the dissolution of the House of Cinema, Iran’s guild for filmmakers.

Ebadi writes that professional and civil institutions are the very tools of democracy and, “according to the Islamic Republic Constitution Articles 26 and 27, professional associations, civil and political groups and institutions, are permissible so long as they do not oppose independence, freedom, national unity or Islamic principles.”

Ebadi states that despite this provision, in recent years and especially since June of 2009, several professional and civic organizations for journalists, writers, students, workers, bus drivers have been shut down, and the latest example is the House of Cinema.

Ebadi writes that the House of Cinema statutes were registered with and approved by the judiciary, adding that it its 5,000 members all denounce the government’s decision to shut it down.

Despite protests from House of Cinema members, Iran’s Culture Minister insisted yesterday that the decision is final.

The House of Cinema is a non-governmental organization established in 1986, when Parliament agreed to allot two percent of national film revenues to its budget in order to “improve the welfare and professional conditions of the film community.”