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Nobel winner seeks U.N. human rights envoy for Iran

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Iranian Nobel Peace Prize recipient Shirin Ebadi called on U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Thursday to appoint a personal envoy to investigate human rights abuses in Iran.

In a letter also signed by the rights groups International Federation for Human Rights and the Iranian League for the Defense of Human Rights, Ebadi asked Ban to appoint the envoy to look into abuses in Iran following June’s disputed presidential election.

A spokesman for Ban said the letter had been received by his office. Ban currently is on a trip to Myanmar in a bid to get the military junta there to release all political prisoners and prepare for credible elections next year.

The letter said Ebadi, a human rights lawyer, had made the request to Ban directly in a telephone conversation on June 23, eleven days after Iran’s election. The United Nations at the time disclosed the conversation but did not mention the request for a human rights envoy.

Ebadi was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts to promote democracy and human rights, in particular the rights of women and children.

Action by Iranian security forces against demonstrators who charged that the election had been rigged in favor of incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drew condemnation from Western countries and from Ban. Iranian authorities said the vote was fair.

“We would like ... to reiterate our call upon you to name a Personal Envoy for Iran,” the letter said.

“Such an envoy would benefit from your authority in the relations with the Iranian authorities, an authority which is denied to human rights groups from Iran or from abroad in the context of this active repression,” the letter said.

The June 12 election pitted hard-liner Ahmadinejad against Mirhossein Mousavi. In the aftermath of the vote, which drew the most vigorous organized protests since the 1979 Islamic revolution, state media said 20 people died in violence.

Ebadi has called on Ahmadinejad to prosecute those who shot protesters and pay compensation to their families while also calling for fresh elections held with U.N. observers.

Additional reporting by Patrick Worsnip; Editing by Will Dunham