Editor’s Note: The following is an announcement by the organization United for Iran on the upcoming conference of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries in Tehran, Iran.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Should Secure
Cooperation on Human Rights before Visiting Iran
Washington D.C. (17 August 2012)–United for Iran calls on democratic leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to pressure Iran to end abuses against its citizens ahead of an upcoming conference that will be held in Tehran later this month. The organization further urges UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to secure Iran’s sustained cooperation on human rights before agreeing to visit the country.
While United for Iran welcomes a recent announcement by Tehran’s prosecuting attorney that 129 political prisoners will be released, it seems many of these prisoners have either served their terms or are nearing the completion of their sentences. It is estimated that over 600 political prisoners are in prison in Iran for their peaceful expression of ideas. United for Iran calls on Ayatollah Khamenei to release all political prisoners being held unless they have been charged with a recognizable crime under international law.
The announcement of the release comes 10 days before world leaders are set to gather in Tehran for a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, whose chairmanship will be assumed by Iran for the next 3 years. The 120-member group of developing countries accepted Iran’s proposal to lead the organization in June 2009, while Iranian security forces were carrying out a violent crackdown on pro-democracy protests, during which dozens of peaceful demonstrators were killed and over 6,000 citizens were detained by the end of that year.
“Iranian officials continue to deny the most basic human rights to their citizens, and with this announcement they hope the world will look the other way,” said Dokhi Fassihian, Director of Programs and Advocacy at United for Iran. “Let us not forget that these citizens should never have been imprisoned to begin with. To characterize this act as a ‘pardon’ is a derogation from truth and responsibility for abuses.”
According to its founding charter, NAM members are required to “respect fundamental human rights” and “respect justice and international obligations.” United for Iran reminds NAM members that Iran is not qualified to lead the organization as it has shown a deep-seated hostility to recognized human rights and has repeatedly demonstrated a disregard for its international human rights obligations.
“It is unfortunate that democratic leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement such as India, South Africa, and Indonesia would reward the Iranian regime with such a leadership position when it has brutally crushed the democratic aspirations of its people and remains one of the world’s most repressive governments,” said Fassihian. “These states have a responsibility to honor their own struggles for democracy by demanding that Iran end the severe repression of its population and institute reforms.”
The Iranian regime outlaws dissent in contravention of its legal obligations under the international treaties it has signed. Under the leadership of Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran has increasingly jailed its opponents and persecutes a wide variety of civil society actors that even mildly criticize government policies and officials. Between 2009 and 2011, some 3,000 cases of politically motivated arrests led to prosecution by Iran’s judiciary, and the jailing of opposition members, human rights defenders, journalists, minority religious practitioners, artists, civic activists, and ordinary citizens who failed to comply with the regime’s totalitarian Islamist ideology. Opposition candidates from the 2009 election, Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, and Mehdi Karroubi, remain under house arrest since February 2011. Authorities continue to use torture, medical neglect, and other forms of inhumane treatment to further intimidate prisoners from speaking out and to silence their family members.
Iranian authorities have not allowed the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, to visit the country despite his request to do so since his appointment last year. The UN Human Rights Council set up the mandate in March 2011 in response to the vastly deteriorating situation since 2009.
“Acts of ‘pardon’ are not convincing until all political prisoners are released and laws that outlaw guaranteed civil and political rights reformed,” Fassihian said. “The UN Secretary General, who has for the last five consecutive years expressed deep concern about intensifying violations, should only go to Iran if human rights is on the agenda, and after concrete human rights cooperation is secured from Iran, including a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur.”
Media contact: Dokhi Fassihian