Dr. Shirin Ebadi told her audience at Peru State College's distinguished speaker series Monday that most Iranians hold opinions incompatible with their government and asked students to search through the mirages to understand the true sentiment of the people.
She said most Iranians are not in favor of the government's nuclear program, its foreign policy, its record on human rights and suppression of freedom.
Ebadi, who became Iran's first female judge in 1960, was selected in 2003 as the first Iranian woman to receive a Nobel Peace Prize.
She has been in exile since the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the Iranian president in 2009.
She says the government closed her law office, threatened her family and eventually auctioned off her property. Her family was released from custody, but their passports have been withdrawn.
Ebadi, who spoke through an interpreter, said the government threatened her family to silence her.
“I told them I love my family, but I love justice more,” she said.
Finally, she said, “the government said they would kill me.”
She said her judgeship had been stripped after the Iranian Revolution in 1979 because conservative clerics insisted that Islam prohibits women from being judges.
She was assigned a secretarial position, but Ebadi worked her way back into legal prominence as a human rights attorney.
She formed an organization dedicated to advocating for the rights of children.
At Peru Monday, she asked students not to accept polling data that suggests that 50 percent or more of Iranians support the nuclear program.
She said the Iranian people are leery of poll callers and said it takes distinct bravery for anyone to give answers they feel might be in opposition to the government.
“The people of Iran are not in agreement with the nuclear program of the government,” she said.
As the to question of whether it is being done for peaceful purposes, Ebadi said the citizens can not be sure.
“I can not render a judgment in this regard as decisions are made behind closed doors and the people are not involved, but even if it is for peaceful purposes it is still not acceptable,” she said.
She said Iran's climate suggests potential for solar power.
She said the people also oppose Iran's foreign policy, pointing to the official support for Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
She said the people of Iran are opposed to Assad's reaction when they asked for their rights.
“Instead of listening to the people he took the (Muamar) Gadafi position. 'I will kill to the last of the opposition and not leave,' which results in a civil war,” she said.
Page 2 of 2 - She said the Iranian people are opposed to the government's record on human rights, its media censorship and suppression of religious freedom.
She said the first condition of democracy is a separation between the state and any ideology and from religion. “Religion should be respected, but it can not be the basis of government,” she said.
She also asked students not to be convinced by images on television of of Iranian women shouting death to America.
“It may be a real picture, but it depicts only a small percentage of the people. Only 5 percent of the people act like that,” she said.