from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

The Non-Aligned Movement, Iran, and Human Rights

August 27, 2012

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The so-called "Non-Aligned Movement," a relic of Cold War days, is now meeting in Iran. Iran is a dictatorship where freedom of thought, press freedom, academic freedom, and free elections are non-existent. But we can be sure that these inconvenient facts will be ignored by the delegates gathered in Tehran.

They are not of course ignored by Iranians, and 400 Iranian intellectuals and dissidents have written to U.N. Secretary General Ban ki-Moon to ask for his support--or at least his acknowledgment of the Iranian people’s struggle. The text of the letter is below. As it suggests, the medical treatment or mistreatment of Mr. Moussavi (expelling him from hospital hurriedly) appears to be occasioned by the NAM meeting, and this too should give delegates and Mr. Ban reason to protest it.  If history is a guide, we had better not hold our breaths.

Given that Iran is under UN Security Council sanctions, Mr. Ban should have skipped this meeting entirely. He can salvage something out of this visit if he does what those who wrote to him suggest and demonstrates solidarity with the people of Iran. The underlying problem of the NAM has always been its indifference to basic human rights. Ban ki-Moon could challenge that history during his stay. He owes nothing to the rulers of the Islamic Republic.

Open Letter to Ban Ki Moon to meet with Mir Hussein Mousavi upon his visit to Iran

August 25, 2012

Dear Mr. Ban Ki Moon,

Secretary General of the United Nations

Your imminent visit to Tehran to participate in the upcoming Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference shall provide a unique opportunity to assess the dire conditions of human rights in Iran first hand. Although your brief visit will not allow a thorough examination of the criticality of the human rights violations in the Islamic Republic, nonetheless this exposure shall be an important and a necessary step in the right direction.

Dialogue and scrutiny have an important role in reducing tension and helping to improve the status quo. It is vital that you meet up with Mr. Mir Hossein Moussavi, former Prime Minister, and the opposition candidate of the rigged 10th Presidential election in 2009. Mr Moussavi the de facto leader of the Iranian Green movement who had been admitted to the cardiology department of a hospital due to heart problems, now has been returned to an unknown location, effectively under house arrest again after treatment. Many Iranians inside and outside of Iran are concerned about his current condition. For the last 32 months Mr. Moussavi and his wife Dr. Zahra Rahnavard have been under house arrest with minimal access imposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. Your meeting with them could defuse the existing threats against Mr. Mousavi and his family’s lives.

Your meeting with Mr. Mousavi is a humanitarian act which is inline with the United Nations ethos. To visit Mr. Mousavi and also Hojat-ul-Islam Mehdi Karubi, former speaker of Majlis and the other Presidential candidate for the 2009 rigged election (still under house arrest) as well as other prisoners of conscience in the infamous Evin Prison will have a positive effect on the establishment of human rights and respect for human dignity in Iran.

The UN , your excellency, and your many colleagues have been instrumental in creating a sanctuary for universal justice around the world. Therefore all governments must abide by the charter of the Universal Declarations of Human Rights and all of its addendums over their own laws and be accountable for any human rights abuses against its own citizens.

For more than 3 decades, the people of Iran have suffered from a systematic , continual and orchestrated human rights violations. Based on the mandates of UN Charter, the expectation from you is to defend peoples basic human rights. Your continued efforts will help to revive the failed attempts by the Special Human Rights Rapporteur on Iran, Dr. Ahmad Shahid to investigate claims of human right violations.

We the undersigned, in the name of humanity and the United Nations Charter, appeal to you to intervene for ending the deteriorating conditions of human rights, state sponsored violence, and prejudice in Iran. The top priority in dealing with the Islamist regime is to demand the release of all political prisoners and the temporary release of all prisoners who have acute health problems.

We hope you will insist on demanding a private meeting with Mir-Hossein Moussavi , his wife Mrs Zahra Rahnavard and Hojat-ul-Islam Mehdi Karubi without the presence of the customary official intimidation.

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