Shirin Ebadi, the first Muslim woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, used the ceremony in Oslo yesterday to send a tough anti-war message to President George Bush's government in Washington.
The 56-year-old Iranian lawyer and human rights campaigner, her country's first female judge before being stripped of the job in 1979 following the Islamic revolution, told the audience that it was worrying when human rights were violated by the Western democracies that had first introduced the principles.
Without citing the United States by name, she singled out the Iraq war and the treatment of "illegal combatants" in the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay for condemnation.
"In the past two years, some states have violated the universal principles and laws of human rights by using the events of September 11 and the war on international terrorism as a pretext," she said in her acceptance speech.
"Regulations restricting human rights and basic freedoms ... have been justified and given legitimacy under the cloak of the war on terrorism."
She also highlighted the inconsistent way that Western countries treat United Nations Security Council resolutions. "Why are certain decisions and resolutions of the Security Council binding while other resolutions of the council are not?" she said. "Why in the course of the past 35 years have the tens of UN resolutions concerning the occupation of Palestinian territories by the state of Israel not been rapidly applied?"
She pointed out that Iraq was subject to "an attack, a military assault, economic sanctions and finally military occupation", first with Security Council support and subsequently in spite of the council's opposition.
Ms Ebadi's choice for the prize has polarised opinion in Iran, where hardline Islamists have condemned it as a ploy by the US and Israel.
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